Scores of social-media sleuths sprang into action when Gabby Petito vanished — and some of their armchair detective work may have led authorities to her likely remains in Wyoming.
Petito’s suspected corpse was found Sunday in Bridger-Teton National Forest — after two YouTubers reviewed personal video they took of their trip there, noticed a van on the footage that matched the description of hers and alerted authorities.
“Most agencies don’t have that many detectives to canvass for witnesses, to canvass for any kind of evidence,” retired NYPD Detective Michael Alcazar told the Washington Post.
“Now we have so many eyes out there, millions of civilian investigators, because now they’re on the lookout. It’s kind of like an Amber Alert, but more effective.”
While some of the Web gumshoes’ tips might be useless, others could have already provided key information to investigators — and may still yet yield leads as probers try to piece together the case.
Travel V-Loggers’ Van Sighting
YouTubers Jenn and Kyle Bethune posted to their channel Sunday that they may have recorded footage of the van Petito had been traveling in cross-country while the pair was reviewing tape from their family’s own trip to Grand Teton National Park.
“We came across a white van that had Florida plates,” Jenn Bethune said. “A small white van. We were going to stop and say hi because we’re from Florida, too, but the van was completely dark. There was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way.”
The Bethunes said they spotted the van parked off to the side around 6 or 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27 and later traveled back on the road and saw it again.
“It’s kind of freaky for a late Saturday evening,” Kyle Bethune said.
Petito’s loved ones later thanked the couple for coming forward with the footage.
“We believe this is the van for multiple reasons,” the kin wrote Sunday on the “Find Gabby” Facebook page.
“Thank you so much, this is exactly why we are asking people to review older photos and video,” they added.
TikToker’s Laundrie Sighting
TikTok user Miranda Baker revealed in a series of videos that she and her boyfriend gave a lift to a man she believes was Petito’s fiance, Brian Laundrie, at Grand Teton on Aug. 29.
Baker claimed that the man told the couple he “needed to go to Jackson,” where she and her boyfriend were heading. But about 20 minutes later, she mentioned “Jackson Hole,” and he allegedly asked to get out.
“Once I said Jackson Hole, he became agitated,” she said in one of the videos. “He seemed like he needed to get out, he was kind of antsy. And that’s when things got weird.”
She said they let the man out near Jackson Dam and that he walked across the street and into a nearby crowded parking lot, presumably to try to continue hitch-hiking.
“I’m hoping this can help someone identify him because I saw him from TikTok, which then made me call the authorities,” she said.
If the hitchiker was Laundrie, it’s unclear where he was headed at the time. He ended up arriving at his parents’ home in North Port, Fla., in Petito’s van — without her — Sept. 1. Laundrie, who cops called a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance, then vanished himself last week.
Police in North Port confirmed that they have spoken to Baker but didn’t say whether they believe the hitchhiker was Laundrie.
Idaho Shop Owner’s Sighting
An Idaho businesswoman revealed that she believes Petito and Laundrie stopped into her store on their way to Yellowstone National Park in late August.
The owner of the Rustic Row in Victor claimed on Facebook that the couple popped into her shop for about 15 to 20 minutes on either Aug. 25 or Aug. 26.
“They told me they were traveling from Florida. They had just been to Teton Park, and they said they were interested in going to Yellowstone, and I told them they could go to the west entrance,” said the unidentified owner, East Idaho News reported.
“They seemed happy, and when they left, she hollered back from the door that they were engaged, and then I said congratulations.”
The owner said she notified the FBI about the encounter in Victor, which is about 29 miles from Petito’s last known location in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Petito last spoke to her family around Aug. 25 and said she and Laundrie were in Utah and headed to Wyoming.
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