Unless you have been stuck out on Gilligan’s Island or don’t pay attention to any news, you no doubt have heard about the Gabby Petito/Brian Laundrie case. You couldn’t have missed this story otherwise; the tale of a twenty-something couple (she was 22, he was 23) that set out in July in a modified van on a trek across the United States to experience the “van life,” only to end up in the news when Petito vanished in late August and Laundrie – her fiancée – returned to North Port, Florida on September 1 in Petito’s van – without Petito.
Petito, who was from New York State but lived with Laundrie and his parents, was reported missing by her family on September 11, Brian and his parents “lawyered up” and refused to answer questions regarding Gabby or her whereabouts.
Laundrie was deemed a person of interest in the case and an arrest warrant was issued on charges of making withdrawals using someone else’s debit card. He departed his home in North Port, Florida on September 13 and he was reported missing on September 17.
On September 19, 2021, Petito’s remains were found at Bridger–Teton National Forest in Wyoming. According to the autopsy, she was killed by manual strangulation. After a month of speculation around Laundrie’s whereabouts and an extended search of the area around his Florida home, his skeletal remains were discovered in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20. His cause of death is yet undetermined.
As I said earlier, this case has been covered by the media for over a month, driven mostly by what the late Gwen Ifill referred to as “missing white woman syndrome.” Since the story broke early last month, anyone with access to a TV or an Internet connection has become familiar with Petito’s wholesome all-American girl features long blonde hair, blue pixie-like eyes, and a winsome smile.
And as is often the case these days, between September 1 and October 20, the tragic, sordid tragedy of the killing of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie’s disappearance and death became grist for conspiracy theories about various aspects of the case.
Because there were so many twists and turns in this tawdry tale that in turn generated a ton of conspiracy theories about each development, let’s examine the ones that sprouted, mushroom-like, when authorities confirmed that partial remains found at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park were positively identified as Laundrie’s.
For instance, in the comments section of a story posted by Nancy Grace, FBI confirms the remains found are Brian Laundrie’s. Joe Scott Morgan talks about Brian Laundrie’s remains and what they might show, many would-be CSI experts weighed in with loony notions.
For instance, Anne C. writes:
I keep saying , I wonder what his parents do for a living…. Because there is something not right about all of this … I smell a huge rat …it like the story of Robert Maxwell…or Allen Garcia …pooof buried and no one see the body.. indentified from dental records .. which they have in advance ….beam me up scotty…
Another graduate of the Facebook Institute of Criminology, Sarah S, chimes in:
WHAT HEAT… THEY SAID HE WAS UNDER. 4 FEET OF WATER
THIS IS A HUGE LIE…
NO WAY HE CAN BE A SKELETON IN LESS THEN A MONTH… PLEASE STOP WITH ALL THE LIES
And super-sleuth Stephanie M writes:
Not believing this. Unfortunately Gabby is officially dead and that makes me so sad. Brian however, too many questions.
Not to be outdone, Lou Ann K produced this bit of conspiracy buggery:
Why have the parents not shown any emotion to his death? Something doesn’t add up. Why did the searchers in that area wading in the water, never trip or step on his body? I think the whole thing has been staged to close the case and someone has been paid off to say it’s him. He’s long gone to start a new life. I think parents have been misleading law enforcement the whole time. If it is truly him, I feel sorry for Gabby’s family that they will never get answers to their questions. But why are his parents not emotional over his “death”?
Not surprisingly, many of these comments are written by white women who identify as conservative (Lou Ann proudly labels herself as a Trump-Pence supporter in her Facebook profile) and Christian. Most of the crackpot comments are written by people unfamiliar with the state of Florida, its climate, or basic facts about the west coast of the state, which is where the Laundrie family lives.
Happily, not every person who comments on this post is a conspiracy nut. One of the rational readers, Jennifer F., offers this observation:
These conspirators have gone wild on Nancy’s page this month.
1st they say the parents love him SO much their hiding him and need to be charged.. then they say the parents killed thier child.. or they say the parents placed their dead child in an area thats been blocked to public so he would never be found..
Then they turn around and say the parents won’t help police YET Brian was found BY POLICE EXACTLY where the parents begged the police to look in the 1st place. Lmfao
Its simple murder/suicide and 2 sets of parents lost their children .. end of story.
I use social media every day. I have been on Facebook since 2009, and even though I am aware of its darker aspects, I still have an account because it has some beneficial aspects. So I can’t say that this kind of conspiracy buggery is new to me.
Trust me, I know it’s not.
But, Dear Reader, looking at these comments by Conspiracy Buggery fans leaves me feeling in despair when I think that many of these same people are the ones who swear Donald Trump won the 2020 election or that the Democrats are a bunch of America-hating pedophiles who want to turn the U.S. into a “Socialist dictatorship” like Cuba or North Korea.
The stupid…it truly hurts.
Killing of Gabby Petito (Wikipedia)