Gabby Petito mystery sparks investigation by police, social media detectives

NORTH PORT, Fla .– Police returned to the vast Carlton Reservation on Sunday in search of the fiancé of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old blogger whose own disappearance has fueled a massive law enforcement and social media effort to resolve the complex, cross -mystery of the country.

Police described Brian Laundrie, 23, as a person of interest in the missing persons case involving Petito, 22, who was last seen in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, late August. Laundrie returned here alone from the couple’s week-long trip on September 1, only to disappear himself last week.

Nearly 100 residents of the region gathered on Saturday evening during a “Light of Hope” vigil to show their support for the Petito family. Vigil attendees tied green ribbons and placed keepsakes on the community tree that stands in front of North Port Town Hall. The tree will remain an official gathering place for residents and visitors who wish to add candles, letters or cards to help find answers.

Lisa Correll, a North Port resident and concerned mother, said she did not know Petito personally. But she says the incident has rocked the community and residents should do whatever they can to make sure Petito’s family feels their love and support.

“Everyone thinks about her, her family and what they’re going through,” Correll said.

Laundrie and his family had refused to discuss Petito’s case with police – until Friday, when family members filed a missing persons report for Laundrie, the North Port Police spokesperson said, Josh Taylor, at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, part of the USA TODAY Network.

The family said they believed Laundrie had visited the reserve earlier in the week and had not returned. North Port Police, FBI and other agencies are conducting a search of the 25,000-acre reserve in Sarasota County. Authorities used drones, sniffer dogs and all-terrain vehicles in the reserve. Investigators took some of her clothes from her parents’ home on Friday night to scent the search dogs.

Gabby Petito is still missing as authorities search for fiancé on vast Florida reservation

Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, said she last spoke with her daughter on August 25, and the family filed a missing person report on September 11. National Park Service and local law enforcement, looking for clues to Petito’s disappearance.

The case is a social media obsession. On TikTok, the hashtag #gabbypetito has gained over 275 million views, and many creators are sharing updates – often unconfirmed reports, screenshots of texts from amateur sleuths about their theories and feelings of their own. about the case.

Updates from Gabby Petito: FBI is now looking for fiancé Brian Laundrie

Some of the creators who publish more actively on the case have changed their biographies to: “Let’s help find Gabby Petito.” The following hashtags, including #findgabbypeitito and #gabbypetitoupdate, attracted over 30 million views and 22 million views, respectively. The #brianlaundrie hashtag has over 100 million views.

Some information includes leads. Miranda Baker, in videos posted to TikTok, said she and her boyfriend picked up hitchhiking Laundrie on Aug. 29 in Grand Teton Park, Wyoming. She said she informed the police about the brief meeting.

“He approached us asking for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson (Wyoming),” she said. “We were going to Jackson that night, so I said ‘get on’ and he jumped in the back of my jeep.”

Baker said Laundrie told them he had been camping alone for the past few days, which his girlfriend was in their van posting on their social media page. Authorities in Utah said Laundrie and Petito were involved in an incident on Aug. 12 in Moab, but responding officers laid no charges and instead asked the couple to spend the night separately. She was to stay in the van while Laundrie was taken away.

Baker said she thought it was “weird” when Laundrie offered to pay $ 200 for a short ride, but a few minutes later Laundrie asked to get out of the jeep and drove off.

Two days later, Laundrie returned home to Florida without Petito. Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, said he asked Laundrie and his family not to discuss the case with police.

On Instagram, the first account when searching for Gabby Petito’s name is @ gabby.petito, who started posting three days ago, and is “a dedicated community” to Gabby.

Twitter is also used to disseminate information and updates on the Gabby Petito case, and some users even post memes about how they are trying to resolve the case.

A subreddit (r / GabbyPetito) dedicated to Petito has 72,000 members. Some of the subreddit rules include “No doxxing / posting of personal information” and “No rumor or misinformation”.

Baker says on her TikTok posts that she is ready to do anything to help authorities resolve the case.

“I really hope they find her,” said B.

Bacon reported from Arlington, Va., Connor from Washington DC; Contribution: Christine Fernando, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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