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Gabby Petito: 'Van-Life' woman's disappearance has echoes of Elisa Lam case

A history of mental health issues, and a trip which led to their mysterious disappearance, Gabby Petito and Elisa Lam's cases are quite similar
UPDATED SEP 18, 2021
Gabby Petito's disappearance is as mysterious as Elisa Lam's case (Instagram/gabspetito/LAPD)
Gabby Petito's disappearance is as mysterious as Elisa Lam's case (Instagram/gabspetito/LAPD)

Elisa Lam's disappearance and death in 2013 continues to remain the most controversial deaths in the decade gone by. Fast forward to September 2021, Gabby Petito's disappearance has raised similar questions for which there are no answers yet. There are a couple of stark similarities between both incidents on many levels be it the constant blogging, a history of mental health issues, the mysterious disappearance, and everything in between.

Here we discuss all that and more but before we do, here's the latest 411 on the recent development in Petito's disappearance. Her boyfriend Brian Laundrie had been named as "person of interest" in her disappearance but he refused to talk to the police other than the statement he released through his attorney. Amid all the pressure building up around Laundrie to speak by people on the Internet, investigators, Petito's family, and protestors who assembled outside his home, news emerged that he's gone missing too.


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A video of what seems to be Laundrie walking barefoot in the wooded area behind his home before police arrived at his house. The video features an unidentified person holding a phone with a photo of Laundrie. The video was uploaded by Yung Fieri but it's unclear if she shot it or obtained it from somewhere. The video has since gone viral on Twitter after it was uploaded on September 17 but it can't be determined if it was shot on the same day and if it's even Florida where it was recorded. We have reached out to Yung Fieri and will update the story when she responds. 

The Internet draws similarities between Elisa Lam and Gabby Petito's disappearance

Elisa Lam went missing on January 31, 2013, four days after she arrived in Los Angeles from British Columbia, Vancouver on a solo trip. She would check in with her parents every day of the trip to let them know she was safe. On January 31, her parents didn't hear from her and contacted the Los Angeles Police Department. A search for Lam began at the infamous hotel, the Cecil where she was nowhere to be found. 

A couple of days later, a chilling CCTV surveillance video saw Lam acting strangely in the hotel's elevator, which is the last time she was ever seen, click on the video below to see her final moments. Lam used to take medication for her bipolar disorder. She was first booked in a dorm room with other travelers at the Cecil but her inability to gel with others led to her shifting to a private room. Fast forward to February 19 that year, her body was found floating in the hotel's water tank after a worker decided to check after guests complained of low water pressure and a weird taste in tap water. 

Speaking about Petito, it's been reported that she struggled with anxiety and even endured an attack while on the trip. She and Laundrie fought each other and she attacked him as she believed he was about to abandon her. Petito, like Lam, used to FaceTime her mother thrice a week while on the trip. She shared too many photographs from all pitstops she made while on the trip until the end of August which is when she last communicated with her mother Nichole Schmidt. 

Laundrie returned to Florida and started living at his parents' house on September 1. Ten days later, Schmidt reported a missing report for her daughter, and an aggressive hunt for her whereabouts in underway. There's a GoFundMe campaign started by a family friend to help aid with the investigation. $60,000 out of the $75,000 goal has already been raised at the time of this writing.