Gabby Petito: Missing While White

The case we will be diving into is the that of Gabby Petito and the nation-wide search for her leading up to finding her body and the subsequent manhunt for Brian Laundrie. He is found dead almost a month later. Gabby’s case is not only an example of domestic violence and violence against women, but a great example of the differences in how missing white women are treated differently than missing WOC.

We will start with a video outlining the different sources we will be using and analyzing, as well as the topics we will touch on with this case. The death of Gabby Petito was a sad, unnecessary, and unfair event, but we can use it to shed light on the issues we face with biased reporting on crimes based on race, the dangers women face, and the web sleuthing that takes place after crimes like this.

Page by Ahlam Atallah and Cheyenne Smith

For accessibility, captions are provided through link above.

In this video we explore why Petito gets so much media coverage when similar cases involving women of color and especially Indigenous women do not. We had originally planned on doing this project on Kaycera Stops Pretty Places, but the lack of information and media coverage had us changing course. Gabby’s case helps bring to light the discrepancies between these two cases, and more more like them in terms of effort, time, coverage and overall magnitude.

This video addresses the different True Crime tropes that the Gabby Petito case touches on. These tropes include police scrutiny and web sleuth conspiracy theories. The Gabby Petito case has activated multiple true crime and justice fans on apps like TikTok and theories continue to fly like crazy as the case progresses.

Gabby Petito tragically lost her life to the senseless violence she faced at the hands of her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Her death is an example of what happens when domestic violence turns fatal. Despite someone calling the police when they saw Brian hitting Gabby in the days before she was killed, the call did not save her life. In abc’s 2020 documentary on her murder, they raise the question about her possibly have surviving if the police intervention had separated them or done something more drastic. Videos of the body cam footage circulating online brought down a lot of blame on to the cops, but the 2020 documentary seems to believe the opposite, citing the police officers actions being the proper procedure and that they did the best they could.

As we mentioned before, women seem to be the victims in most true crime cases, and this is unfortunately another example to join the multitude. Despite us using this case to highlight the difference between the coverage cases involving white women versus cases involving women of color, especially Indigenous women, get, this is not to say that Gabby did not deserve the attention or care. On the contrary, everyone deserves this much effort and closure.

The world of true crime can be criticized for many things, but the ability to give a voice to the truly voiceless, the victims, will always be a valuable asset. When consuming true crime rhetoric consider how the story is being told, from whose perspective, and which stories are not being told.

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