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How the Gabby Petito case became the largest TikTok community investigation ever seen

The case has gone absolutely viral on TikTok. The tag #gabbypetito had 77 million views on TikTok, and #findgabbypetito had 16.6 million
Gabby Petito documented her national parks tour with boyfriend Brian Laundrie on YouTube (YouTube/ Nomadic Statik, Instagram/ @gabspetito)
Gabby Petito documented her national parks tour with boyfriend Brian Laundrie on YouTube (YouTube/ Nomadic Statik, Instagram/ @gabspetito)

While every social media platform is heavily invested in finding out the truth behind the disappearance of travel vlogger Gabby Petito, none is as dedicated to trying to solve the mystery behind her case as TikTok. 

If you are not already familiar with Petito's case, the 22-year-old aspiring YouTuber and her fiance Brian Laundrie had set out on a 'van life' adventure earlier in the summer, documenting their tour of national parks on Petito's new YouTube channel and Instagram. Laundrie, 23, returned to his parent's home in North Port, Florida on September 1 with the van but without Petito. Petito’s family reported her missing on September 11 after losing contact with her for several days. Laundrie has since lawyered up, refused to cooperate with investigators and has been branded "person of interest" in Petito's disappearance. And now, he has gone missing too.


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The case has gone absolutely viral on TikTok. According to Mashable, of Friday, the tag #gabbypetito had 77 million views on TikTok, and #findgabbypetito had 16.6 million. The tag #gabbypetitoupdate had whipped up 7.3 million views. Petito also had a following on Reddit. The subreddit r/GabbyPetito was created on September 13, and so far, it already has 33,200 members. Petito is also the subject of multiple threads in r/True Crime, which has 611,000 members, and in r/TrueCrimeDiscussion, which has 284,000 members. Even dedicated Instagram accounts such as @gabby.petito have popped up, and which so far has 15.8K followers. 

'TikTok is gonna solve the Gabby case before the cops do'

While the FBI has also gotten involved in finding Petito, people on Twitter believe that TikTokers are going to solve the case before law enforcement agents. "TikTok is gonna solve the Gabby case before the cops do," one of them reckoned, while another said, "Tiktok is gonna find out what happened to Gabby Petito weeks before the FBI does." A third commented, "Tiktok solving the gabby petito case." One more stated, "This whole gabby thing is so wild! true crime TikTok is literally digging." The next added, "This girl on tiktok was talking about her theory on what may have happened with gabby petito and this guy was like 'you have no legal background, reading google doesn’t make you an attorney' and she clapped back with pics of her graduating law school lmao."


One more remarked, "Me explaining my deeply complex Gabby Petito theories to my husband which are founded solely on TikTok videos i’ve watched over the last 48 hours." A commenter tweeted, "Ima need tiktok to keep the same energy with finding gabby petito as they did with figuring out kylie jenner is pregnant." A person reacted with, "On TikTok super invested in the Gabby Petito case." Another noted, "So i’ve also been kinda following along with the gabby petito situation but some of you tiktok true crime ppl are….a little too excited to be talking about this case rn…like why are you smiling like “omg guys guess what!!1!1!1!"










Most popular TikTok theory

TikToker Miranda Baker has claimed that she had an interaction with Gabby Petito’s boyfriend Brian Laundrie a few days after she disappeared. According to Baker, she picked up the 23-year-old man as he was hitchhiking alone on August 29 - five days after Gabby was seen checking out of a Fairfield Inn hotel in Utah. Baker shared a video on her TikTok account in which she said that she along with her boyfriend was at Grand Teton National Park in Colter Bay, Wyoming, on the evening of August 29 when Brian requested them for a lift. She noted, “He approached us asking for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson and we were going to Jackson that night. So I said, ya know, ‘hop in’ and he hopped in the back of my Jeep.”

Brian, who is now a person of interest in the disappearance case, was donning “a backpack, a long sleeve, pants and hiking boots,” as claimed by Baker. She also said Gabby’s boyfriend even offered to pay them $200 for a 10-mile ride. “So that was kind of weird,” the TikToker added. Baker said she and her boyfriend “then proceeded to make small talk” with Brian and he apparently told them he had been camping for several days without his 22-year-old fiancée. “He did say he had a fiancée and that she was working on their social media page back at their van,” she stated.