The FBI Has Nothing on Tik Tok Sleuths

A look into the social media coverage on the Gabby Petito case.


Madison Metzger, Online Editor

On Aug. 12, 2021 law enforcement was called in Moab, Utah, to check on a “domestic dispute” between couple Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito and Brian Laundrie. On Sept. 1, 2021, Brian Laundrie returned home with Petito’s van, but not Petito, refusing to say why he was alone or where Petito was. On Sept. 19, 2021, Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming while the search for a missing Laundrie continued. While little more has been officially released by the FBI and other law enforcement about this case, many social media platforms have been overflowing with possible theories about Petito’s death and Laundrie’s whereabouts.


As more and more small, yet pertinent details were released about the Petito-Laundrie case by official sources, even more fragments of the story, both big and small, as well as theories overwhelmed the wildly popular social media platform, Tik Tok. In fact, many people either heard about the ongoing case through Tik Tok or are using the app to find updates on it. 


Senior, Jamie Lehmer said, “I like heard of it from Tik Tok, duh, but then I started looking more at news sources once more and more came out.”


Popular Tik-Tokers such as Haley Toumaian, known by her handle @robandhaley, and Paris Campbell, known by her handle @stopitparis, are taking it upon themselves to give constant updates on what happened before and after Petito’s death as well as how the search for Laundrie is progressing. Miranda Baker, known by her handle @mirandabaker_, even claimed she picked up a hitchhiking Laundrie on Aug. 25, 2021 which turned out to be a valuable tip to the FBI. Another important source of information was the travel vlogging family best known on social media as Red White & Bethune who claimed they saw Petito’s van parked on the side of a back road in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming just three days before Laundrie returned home without her.


 Though traditional, as well as more official, news sources such as CNN and Fox News are updating the public on Petito’s autopsy and Laundrie’s potential whereabouts, Tik Tok is proving to be just as valuable a source of information to some. 


“This is so Gen Z but I get my information from the news outlets and accounts dedicated to what’s going on in the world on Tik Tok but also The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post.” Grace Sinquefield (22) said. 


The mystery of Petito’s death remains to be solved. Will the FBI uncover all the facts or will Tik Tok sleuths beat them to it? This inquiry remains a mystery as well.