Gabby Petito, 22, was reported missing on September 11, after taking a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundries. Laundries, who is a person of interest in the case, is still in the wind and the Petito family are pleading for him to turn himself in. Her body was found in northwestern Wyoming on Sept 18, a week after she went missing.
Once she was reported missing, her story went viral and Gabby became a household name. Her face popped up on Instagram feeds all over the world.
Internet sleuths latched onto her story as well trying to piece together what happened to the young women.
News outlets continuously ran updates, giving her more attention than the majority of girls who go missing.
People of color immediately noticed the difference in coverage, calling it missing “white woman syndrome,” but the Petito Family noticed as well.
During the press conference, Joseph Petito, the father of Gabby, thanked everyone who put the spotlight on his daughter’s disappearance but reminded the audience all missing persons deserve the same attention.
“I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help,” he said. “It’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room to do that, and if you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby that deserves it.”
According to a report published by the state, 710 indigenous people, mostly young girls, went missing in Wyoming from 2011 to 2020. They also found 85% of the miss were kids and 57% were females. Of the state’s 23 counties, indigenous people had been reported missing in 22 of them, with barely any media coverage outside local publications.
An estimated 64,000 black women or girls are missing in the U.S. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that out of the 613,000 people reported missing in the U.S. last year, about 60% were people of color.