Riley Austin and Mason Burkhart

Have you ever wanted to know what life was like on the road? Driving from place to place with everything you need with you. Gazing out the window at new landscapes you have never seen before. Maybe you have only seen them in movies or pictures, but now you are in the driver’s seat soaking up all the beauty with your eyes. You close your eyes and stick your hand out the window, touching the cold wind with the tip of your fingers feeling happy and free from everything and everyone. Gabby Petito was that person in the driver’s seat wanting to explore life and go on new journeys. She wanted to be free, live her life, and share her travels with the world. 

But what if not everything you see on the internet was as real and beautiful as depicted? What if  while scrolling on Instagram you saw a picture of a couple smiling and holding each other? You stop and like the post, not thinking much of it. However, what if those smiles are fake, and what if real problems were beneath the surface.

Gabby Petito, 22, and her fiance planned to go on a trip together cross country in her van. Petito and her fiance Brain Laundrie, 23, planned to document their travels on social media. Everything appeared to be going well but it quickly became apparent that this was not the case.

On September 1, 2021, Laundrie returned to his family home in Florida without Petito. This was concerning for Petito’s family because the couple’s trip was scheduled to end over a month later. Petitio’s family was unaware that Laundrie had even made the trip to Florida without their daughter until September 11, 2021. On this day, her parents reported her as missing. Suspicion around her fiance grew as they, along with the police, realized that he drove Petito’s car without her. 

The public quickly became involved with this case and the couple’s social media platforms gained attention. As people online picked apart minor details posted on Petito’s social media, the attention was turned towards Laundrie. For instance, the last Instagram post that was posted to her account, according to her fans, sounded nothing like her nor did it follow any of her patterns such as tagging her location. The couple also had the police called on them recently due to a public dispute in which mild violence ensued. Neither was charged with anything; however, when fans reviewed the bodycam footage and the call to 9-1-1, they say that Petito seemed to be relieved when the police pulled her away from Laundrie. 

 As the public’s interest grew, the police worked in hopes of finding her alive. Unfortunately on Sunday, September 19, 2021 human remains were found near her last known location, Teton County, Wyoming. Her family was still hopeful that this was not her while waiting for the results from the autopsy. Unfortunately on September 21, 2021, the Teton County coroner confirmed that the remains found two days prior matched Gabby Petito. The final autopsy is yet to be finished, but will hopefully provide some more insight into what happened and lead to justice. 

As of now, Laundrie is the only suspect in her murder. More information is coming out with every hour that this case progresses, and this article will be updated when there is a substantial break in the case.