Manhunt intensifies for Brian Laundrie after initial autopsy
Criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh provides legal perspective on Gabby Petito investigation.
Users on TikTok, YouTube, and other social media outlets have taken the disappearances of Gabby Pettito and Brian Laundrie into their own hands and made Laundrie America’s most wanted man.
Petito and Laundrie left New York on a cross-country road trip in July and documented their journey west on Youtube and Instagram before Laundrie returned home to Florida alone on September 1. Petito was reported missing by her family on September 11 and amateur detectives on social media quickly jumped on the case.
Shortly after Petito was reported missing, TikTok sleuths began posting videos analyzing Gabby Petito’s most recent Instagram posts and live streaming press conferences while engaging with followers on where Petito could be.
TikTok user @RobandHaley, Haley Toumaian, posted a video on September 16 giving an overview of the case and analyzing Petito’s hair color in her latest Instagram post and racked up tens of thousands of likes and views.
“I am a true crime podcaster, and when I heard about Gabby’s case I knew I needed to use my research to look into it,” Toumaian told Gizmodo. “When I heard about her, it struck a chord with me because I am similar in age to her, also a YouTuber, am engaged… we have a lot of similarities. The first video I posted I was just trying to get the very early info out there to my about 170,000 followers at the time, just in case anyone knew anything about it.”
Paris Campbell, a comedian and writer with 150,000 followers on TikTok, also took up the case posting roughly 40 videos encouraging her followers to share screenshots of a missing persons flyer of Petito and analyzing the social media posts from the couple.
One of the commenters on one of the videos identified herself as Petito’s cousin and encouraged Campbell to keep posting while thanking her for the support.
Shortly after TikTok began buzzing about where Petito was located, YouTubers on the channel provided a significant break in the case when the channel Red, White & Bethune noticed images of Petito’s missing white van in footage they shot on a trip to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. One of the account’s owners, Jenn Bethune, told “Fox & Friends” that she went back and reviewed the tape because she was tagged by concerned social media users.
Instagram users joined the hunt for Laundrie and Petito as well, including Instagram influencer Nina Celie Angelo who posted about witnessing a fight between Laundrie and staff at a Jackson Hole restaurant in August. The restaurant confirmed on Instagram that Laundrie and Petito had indeed visited the establishment on August 27.
Petito’s body was found nearby where the van had been left on September 19 and authorities have said the cause of death is homicide. Laundrie has been labeled as a person of interest in the case but has not yet been named a suspect.
The internet sleuths then shifted their full attention to Laundrie who authorities have been searching for in the Carlton Reserve wilderness area near North Port, Florida where his family says he was last seen.
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In addition to the authorities who have been combing the area, local residents have launched their own searches and posted the videos to YouTube.
A 45-minute live stream titled “HUNTING FOR BRIAN LAUNDERIE IN EVERGLADES” was posted to YouTube on Wednesday night and showed residents combing through dense brush searching for Laundrie.
On Thursday, a local law firm near the Laundrie home offered the public a $20,000 reward for information leading to the confirmation of Laundrie’s current location.
North Port Police said 75 personnel from 16 different agencies with swamp buggies and a drone were on the ground in Carlton Reserve Thursday searching for Laundrie.
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