The life of Gabby Petito: 22-year-old #VanLife influencer documented her journey on Instagram
- Remains found in Wyoming were confirmed to belong to 22-year-old influencer Gabby Petito.
- Over the past two years, she posted her country-wide travels on Instagram and TikTok.
- Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is a person of interest in the investigation and has gone missing.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Remains found in Wyoming were confirmed on Tuesday to belong to 22-year-old influencer Gabby Petito, who embraced the popular #VanLife trend by travelling the US in a van. Petito was reported missing by her mother on September 11 after embarking on a country-wide road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie.
On Tuesday, the FBI's Denver office confirmed that human remains that were discovered near the Spread Creek Dispersed camping site in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming did belong to Petito. The FBI had previously announced on Sunday that it had found remains consistent with her description at the location.
Following an autopsy performed on Tuesday, Teton Country Coroner Dr. Brent Blue's "initial determination for the manner of death [was] homicide," said a statement published on the FBI Denver office Twitter account.
In the time since she was reported missing, her case has captivated audiences on social media as people online posted updates, theories, and speculation about Petito and Laundrie, The New York Times reported.
According to Newsday, the pair started their road trip on July 2 in a 2012 Ford Transit van in Blue Point, New York. Laundrie returned without Petito to their shared home in North Port, Florida sometime in the past week, according to the Daily Mail. The van has been seized by North Port police, a spokesperson for the department told Insider in a statement.
The Suffolk County Police department said in a statement that Nicole Schmidt, Petito's mother, reported her daughter missing after she stopped sending or responding to messages. In a statement provided to Insider, a spokesperson for the family said that Petito's last known location was Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.
On Monday, the Tampa FBI tweeted that they executed a "court-authorised search warrant" for Laundrie's North Port, Florida, home. Laundrie has been missing since early last week- his parents told authorities that he left to go on a hike at the nearby Carlton Reserve but didn't return.
"Law enforcement agencies continue to search for Brian Laundrie," a North Port Police spokesman said in a statement.
As of Tuesday, Florida police said that Petito's case was officially considered a criminal investigation, Insider previously reported.
Petito had been chronicling her travels and their road trip on her Instagram account, which now has over 61,000 followers, as well as her "nomadicstatik" TikTok and YouTube before her disappearance. Here's what to know about Petito and her life as an aspiring travel influencer.
Petito grew up on Suffolk County, Long Island and caught the travel bug
Petito grew up in Blue Point, located on Long Island's southern half in New York. She attended Bayport-Blue Point High School according to her Facebook which remains private, graduating in 2017, according to Patch.
During her high school years, she seemingly travelled all around the globe. In 2012, she checked in on Facebook to Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas and in 2016 posted pictures on her Instagram tagged in Costa Rica.
Petito posted her adventures on social media
In March 2019, Petito started dating Laudrie, according to posts on her Instagram, and started travelling the country with him.
In 2019, she shared Instagram photos at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk in North Carolina, a records store in Bedford, Texas, a trail in Pike's Peak, Colorado, a Ferris Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier, Yosemite National Park, and the Las Vegas strip.
They started 2020 by travelling California, posting on Instagram in January from Santa Monica and in February from Pismo Beach. In February they also posted their first TikTok video under the alias gabbynovaa, writing in the caption "road trip from New York all the way to California."
Laundrie and Petito got engaged in July 2020
According to the Daily Mail, Petito and Laundrie moved in together two years ago in North Port, Florida. Petito posted a picture of her 21st birthday in Nokomis, Florida on Instagram in March 2020 but was back on the road by June, sharing an Instagram image of her reading "Fight Club" at the So pe Creek Paper Mill Ruins in Georgia. Petito also posted pictures of herself reading "Zodiac," a book about the Zodiac serial killer, and "Lullaby," by the same author as "Fight Club."
In July 2020, Petito posted on her Instagram that Laundrie had proposed to her alongside a picture of their first date, writing in a caption that "you make life feel unreal, and everyday is such a dream with you." That same month, Laundrie started posting to his own Instagram account that mainly featured images of his art and pictures with Petito.
The pair started posting about their #VanLife travels in July
Nicole Schmidt told NBC affiliate KSL that Petito and Laundrie left Blue Point, New York on July 2. On July 4, Petito and Laundrie posted pictures on their respective Instagram accounts at Monument Rocks in Kansas.
Over the rest of July, they continued posting with the #vanlife hashtag, sharing an Instagram image and a TikTok video (under their account renamed gabbypotato) at southern Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. They also posted images and Instagram stories of themselves at Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Mystic Hot Springs, and Canyonlands National Park, all located in Utah.
Their only YouTube video was uploaded on August 19 to the 7,700 Nomadic Statik YouTube channel, featuring a montage of their travels over the past two years. The pair wrote in the description that "after our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we wanted to downsize our lives and travel full time" and "that's why we handcrafted our own tiny van, a simple 2012 Ford transit connect, utilizing space with unique designs and features."
The description also mentions a "Nomadik Statik" blog that currently has no content and only asks for a password. According to domain registry site duplichecker, the site was registered on July 28 on Squarespace.
The day after the YouTube video, their TikTok account posted under the new name nomadikstatik promoting their new YouTube venture.
Petito's parents told KSL that the couple departed Salt Lake City to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on August 24. The last image posted to Petito's Instagram was on August 25 of her holding a crocheted pumpkin with the caption "Happy Halloween."
Petito told police that her fiancé didn't think she could make it as a travel influencer, per bodycam footage
Bodycam footage of Gabby Petito's August 12 interaction with police in Utah shows the 22-year-old tearfully telling officers that her fiancé Brian Laundrie was a "downer" who didn't believe in her dream. In the footage, Petito described quitting her job as a nutritionist in order to document her road trip with Laundrie.
"I just quit my job to travel across the country, and I'm trying to start a blog, a travel blog, so I've been building my website," Petito can be heard saying in the footage. "I've been really stressed, and he doesn't really believe that I can do any of it."
The bodycam footage was released by Utah police on September 16. Moab City Police pulled the couple over on August 12 while responding to a call regarding a potential domestic disturbance between the couple. Police considered charging Petito with domestic violence after she told them that she had slapped Laundrie during an argument and when they were pulling over, but decided not to when she said that she had no intention to physically hurt or impair Laundrie.
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