What happened to Gabby Petito?

The social media influencer went missing in August 2021

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito eating sushi
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito in a picture featured in The Disappearance of Gabby Petito. The travel vlogger went missing during a trip with her fiancé in 2021. (ITV)

When vlogger Gabby Petito was reported missing in August 2021, the story captured the public's attention and the events of the case are now being examined in a new ITVX documentary.

The Disappearance of Gabby Petito is a three-part series charting the investigation into the travel influencer's whereabouts after she went missing. At the time the 22-year-old American was embarking on a 'vanlife' journey with fiancé Brian Laundrie, and the trip was meant to last four months as they travelled across the US.

After her family shared a public appeal for any information about her disappearance, internet sleuths became obsessed with trying to solve the case. As the mystery of her whereabouts continued, the wider attention on social media about it grew, while the police and the public tried to figure out what happened to her.

For those who weren't drawn into the case at the time, here is everything that you need to know about Petito and her disappearance.

Gabby Petito on the beach
Gabby Petito was an aspiring travel vlogger who was reported missing on 11 September 2021. (ITV)

Petito was a social media influencer who documented her travels on Instagram and YouTube. In 2021 she decided to go on a cross-country adventure for four months. Petito and Laundrie began their trip on 2 July, 2021 and travelled to locations like Monument Rocks, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and the Canyonlands National Park.

Her final Instagram post was published on 26 August, 2021, and her mother began to be concerned when she received odd text messages pertaining to be from Petito about her grandfather, who was referred to by his name Stan. This arose suspicions, and her family took notice of her lack of social media activity.

Shortly after receiving these messages all forms of communication stopped, and after being unable to get in touch with Petito or Laundrie her mother reported her missing on 11 September, 2021.

An appeal was made to the public by Petito's family for any information of her whereabouts. At the time Laundrie had returned home without Petito — he chose not to cooperate with police, which began to put public scrutiny onto him.

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito on the beach
Gabby Petito decided to go on a cross-country adventure for four months with Brian Laundrie. Their trip began on 2 July, 2021 and she documented their travels online. Her last Instagram post was made on 26 August. (ITV)

The police saw Laundrie as a person of interest but not a suspect at the time, and were instead focused on figuring out Petito's whereabouts. Internet sleuths took it upon themselves to scrutinise both their social media accounts to look for answers, with some even visiting Laundrie's family home in Florida to demand answers.

It was later revealed that — on 12 August — a witness had reported a domestic dispute to police, saying that they had seen a couple fighting at Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, Utah. The couple were later identified as Petito and Laundrie.

Police cam footage showed an interaction between officers, Petito and Laundrie shortly thereafter, where Petito was visibly emotional after an altercation with her fiancé — this footage was leaked to the public after her disappearance went viral.

A mural of Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito's appealed to the public for information and her disappearance went viral, with Brian Laundrie being scrutinised by internet sleuths after returning to Florida alone. (ITV)

Witnesses had told police they'd seen a man slapping the woman, when Petito was questioned about her injuries during the traffic stop she first tried to downplay them before saying that Laundrie "kept telling [her] to shut up" and "grabbed [her] face". Petito went on to tell police that she had hit Laundrie first, and when Laundrie was questioned he did not admit to hurting her and called Petito "crazy".

Police separated the couple for one night after Petito and Laundrie chose not to press charges against each other, and they did not characterise the incident as domestic violence. The footage became a subject of debate amongst internet sleuths, who argued it was a clear sign of domestic abuse.

Laundrie returned alone to Florida on 1 September, he was driving the van that they had been travelling together in. On 17 September, 2021 police visited the Laundrie family home, and it was revealed shortly after that Laundrie had gone missing.

A mural of Gabby Petito surrounded by candles
On 19 September, Petito's remains were found by police in Bridger–Teton National Forest, Wyoming. Brian Laundrie confessed to killing her in a note left after taking his own life. (Getty Images)

On 19 September, Petito's remains were found by police in Bridger–Teton National Forest, Wyoming. She had been killed as a result of strangulation, and she had blunt force trauma to her head and neck.

An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie on 23 September for using Petito's debit card without permission. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, Florida, on 20 October, 2021.

Police found a notebook near Laundrie's remains in which he confessed to killing Petito.

The Disappearance of Gabby Petito is available to stream on ITVX now.

For confidential emotional support contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123 or emailing jo@samaritans.org