Amateur detectives on social media helped crack Gabby Petito case


The notoriety of Gabby Petito’s disappearance has people on social media acting like detectives – and it appears some have actually been effective in helping authorities.

The suspected death of Petito, believed to have been found on Sunday in Bridger-Teton National Forest, has the internet determined to solve the mystery behind her presumed death, The New York Post reported.

With the help of two YouTube videos from users who volunteered their services while they were on a trip to the location of her death, they noticed the van that might have belonged to Petito. 

“Most agencies don’t have that many detectives to canvass for witnesses, to canvass for any kind of evidence,” retired NYPD Detective Michael Alcazar told the Washington Post. 

“Now we have so many eyes out there, millions of civilian investigators because now they’re on the lookout. It’s kind of like an Amber Alert, but more effective.”

FBI agents have served and are executing a search warrant at the Florida home of Brian Laundrie, who last week was named a person of interest in the disappearance of his fiancee, Petito.

A body, believed to be Petito’s, was located on Sunday in Wyoming.

“The #FBI is executing a court-authorized search warrant today at the Laundrie residence in North Port, FL relevant to the Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito investigation,” the FBI’s Tampa field office tweeted on Monday. "No further details can be provided since this is an active and ongoing investigation.” 

On Sunday, YouTubers Jenn and Kyle Bethune posted that they obtained footage of Petito’s van that was used in her cross-country trip while the couple were on their family’s own trip to Grand Teton National Park.

“We came across a white van that had Florida plates,” Jenn Bethune said. “A small white van. We were going to stop and say hi because we’re from Florida, too, but the van was completely dark. There was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way.”

The Washington Post reports that one TikTok user posted about how she might have given Petito’s boyfriend a ride as a hitchhiker on Aug. 29 at Grand Teton National Park. 

It was after police interactions that she realized she might have recognized him.

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