(NewsNation Now) – Gabby Petito, 22, embarked on a cross-country trip with boyfriend Brian Laundrie in July, documenting every turning point in their new van life on their fledgling YouTube channel, where they invited the world to follow.
But more than a week after Laundrie returned from the trip on her own, her family reported her missing and subscribers took the invitation to heart – perusing her posts and unraveling the mystery in real time.
The hashtag #gabbypetito has been viewed over 867 million times on TikTok alone.
Paris Campbell, actress and TikTok user, saw herself in the videos she watched of Petito.
“I’m a new mom,” Campbell told NewsNationNow.com. “I saw an interview with Gabby’s mother crying, begging people to help her bring her daughter home.
“It just resonated with me.”
Haley Toumaian, 24, is a data analyst. But she also uses her account and expertise to search for clues.
“My goal is to share as much as possible because you never know who is going to see the video and who might know something,” she told NewsNationNow.com.
Millions of people have flocked to the various posts – dissecting the threads and the theories. One of Toumaian’s videos scrutinizes the captions of Petito’s Instagram posts. Campbell reported an apparent change in that appeared in the photos themselves in another video.
“I saw myself a lot in what was being reported about Gabby,” Toumaian said. “We’re the same age, we’re both engaged. We’re both YouTubers and live a similar sort of lifestyle.
She said she also knew what it was like to be in a toxic relationship. This empathy became even more applicable after bodycam footage in Utah showed Petito and Laundrie after a recent fight.
After weeks of mystery, a breakdown in the case has arisen. YouTubers Jenn and Kyle Bethune found video of a white pickup truck they took on their camera while on a trip to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on August 27. This van fits the description of the one in which Petito and Laundrie traveled.
The van was by the side of the road. Then they gave the footage to the FBI, who closed the area to the public.
A few days later, on September 19, they found Petito’s body nearby.
For the online community, the search for laundry and justice continues.
In a TikTok video, Miranda Baker claimed she picked up the laundry on her own in the park. She said she called authorities after recognizing him in the TikTok videos after the fact.
The community also relies on its own findings. Former Marine and self-proclaimed audio / video nerd Brent Shavnore said he improved the video of the van and believed he could see the door close.
“When I zoomed in with 4k video, it was clear to me on a large monitor that this door appeared to be closing,” Shavnore told NewsNationNow.com. “I got chills down my spine, and when I saw this happening I immediately posted it on Twitter to see if anyone else had seen the same.”
Several people on Twitter commented on the video, saying it was “scary” to see someone close the door “suddenly” in the enhanced video.
There has been some debate as to whether the flood of speculation and analysis has been helpful or not, but Michael Alcazar, a 30-year New York Police Department investigator, says it’s “very helpful. “.
“There are like bigfoot sightings from Laundrie right now. Everyone is handing in pictures, grainy pictures, ”he told NewsNationNow.com. “And I think that’s a big help. It’s like a lot of investigators are making a canvas for that person of interest.
There is no sign that the community, hungry for answers, will divert its energy anytime soon.
“There’s something really powerful about having a large group of people trying to get the same message across and a large group of people focusing on one topic,” Campbell said. “And I think the natural result of that would be some kind of progress.”
“If I can make a difference then it’s worth it,” said Toumaian.