Opinion: This Is Why I’m Okay Not Knowing the End of the Gabby Petito Story

By: Angie McPherson

Gabby Petito went missing and the world took notice. The attention her story received helped the police to crowd-source evidence that ultimately led to her final resting place at an undeveloped camping site in a remote area of Wyoming. 

But, inevitably, along with the helpful tips came the media frenzy for attention. In the past week, law enforcement specialists have openly stated that television personalities, like Dog the Bounty Hunter, might be “hindering” the investigation for Gabby’s missing former fiance, Brian Laundrie, which poses a new question: At what point should the public move on from an investigation?

As a mom and a journalist who has covered missing children’s stories, I am okay with not knowing the end of the Gabby Petito story. 

Opinion: This Is Why I'm Okay Not Knowing the End of the Gabby Petito Story

Since Gabby Petito was found, I stopped combing the news for stories about her and Laundrie. The purpose of the media frenzy was to help draw attention to the missing girl; she was found. Sadly, it was not the update we wanted, but it was closure that many families of missing people don’t always get.

Often as a reporter, when reaching out to families after missing cases are updated, the door is sometimes closed. Lingering questions leave people uneasy, but there are times when unanswered questions are left in the interest of protecting the family or the child. Sometimes these painful memories, if not important to the police or the public, should be kept private.

Currently, the search is still on for Laundrie as Gabby’s family mourns her loss. It is unknown if Laundrie will be found, the looming questions about Gabby Petito’s final moments may never be answered — even if he is. In some cases, it takes years to learn the full story; in others, there aren’t clear resolutions.

That’s not to say that people should stop looking for Laundrie, but, as onlookers, we should get accustomed to the unsettling endings of real-life stories and move on with grace, at least if that’s what the families of the victim’s request. 

Opinion: This Is Why I'm Okay Not Knowing the End of the Gabby Petito Story

In a press conference today, Gabby’s parents stated that they have launched a foundation in her memory and are encouraging other people to help other missing cases.

“Our focus is still on mourning Gabby and honoring Gabby,” said Gabby Petito’s father, Jim Schmidt. “The FBI is doing everything they can and we have full faith in them.” 

Perhaps, like her family, it’s time to move on to other missing cases and allow the FBI to complete this investigation. 

Gabby Petito’s story has shown how the power of social media can help fill in the missing timeline to bring closure. There are many people who were heartbroken for the young girl who wanted to see the world with the love of her life, lovingly known as “America’s daughter.” She will forever be remembered for her ability to bring families together to help bring closure for hers.

Hopefully, as her family has noted, her story can also bring some attention to the many other missing people and the people who love them.

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