From the first moment it became known the disappearance of 22-year-old American Gabby Petito began to go around the world. When her body was found and it became known that the case was being investigated as homicide, interest sparked.
The posts on social media rained down, the reporting on the channels was continuous. The young blogger had been murdered and this was of great interest. But at the same time has also fueled a debate about the disproportionate attention paid to the disappearances of white women.
The tragic story of the blonde, young and beautiful American woman
The recent announcement of the body of a 22-year-old woman in Wyoming and the announcement Tuesday that Petito’s death is now considered homicide have been broadcast around the world.
Gabi and her boyfriend Brian Londry embarked on an adventure with their van across the United States. Londry returned home alone ten days before Petito’s family announced her disappearance.
It was issued by the US federal police yesterday, Thursday arrest warrant against 23-year-old, who is accused of using Gabi’s credit card after her disappearance. So far, Londry is wanted and has not been located.
The tragic story of this blonde, young and beautiful American woman seemed commonplace in a country where thousands of people disappear every year. However, it has attracted the attention of the public, as noted by the French Agency and relayed by the Athenian News Agency.
“At first I was just interested because it was a really exciting story. I was wondering “why did this happen? “Why didn’t he come back?” Explains Paris Campbell, 28. Under the pseudonym “stopitparis” she has posted about 30 videos on her TikTok account with 263,000 followers. “It really is a situation that one can identify with,” he added.
Gabi Petito: The “idealized” image of the couple and the “tragedy”
In the many photos from the trip that the couple posted on social media, they appeared smiling against the background of impressive landscapes of the west. USA. According to Campbell, this “idealized” image of the couple and the “tragedy” that followed increased the interest.
She says her account has gained more than 100,000 followers since she took office last week. The hashtag “GabbyPetito” garnered more than 900 million views on TikTok on Thursday.
Campbell spends many hours a day producing her videos and says a comment posted by a cousin of Petito in one of her posts encouraged her to continue: “I had the impression I was doing the right thing.”
Thanks to the many videos that were posted about the case, some users were able to provide information to the authorities for its investigation. A couple said in a YouTube video that they saw Petito and Londri’s truck in Grand Teton National Park. Thanks to them, the police managed to locate the body of the victim near the place where they had seen the van.
“Social media works like Amber Alert, but more effectively,” said Michael Alcazar, a retired New York police inspector and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Millions of eyes are searching for” the missing, which increases the chances of cases being resolved, he added.
The syndrome of the missing, white woman
However, this level of publicity has never been achieved with the disappearance of an African-American woman or a native.
The disappearances of young, white women, especially those who are “relatively wealthy” and who “meet the criteria of beauty”, are more covered by the media than those of minorities, according to lawyer and criminologist Jacques Somers, who is studying “the missing white woman syndrome.”
50% of the articles he has studied concern the disappearance of a white woman, which constitute only 30% of the disappearances, according to estimates.
A young and “fragile” woman fits the narrative of the “Miss in Danger” who “needs to be saved”
Gabi Petito, who is considered a young and “fragile” woman, fits the narrative of the “Miss in Danger” who “needs to be saved”, an image “with a strong presence in American culture”, Somers explains.
According to him, the attention given to Petito’s case is due to other factors, such as the large amount of information about her life that is available on social media and feeds the curious, as well as the video from the camera of a police officer in which had addressed the young woman in August, in which she appears to be fighting with Londry.
Besides, her boyfriend with his behavior offered the public “a natural suspect”, notes Somers.
At the same time, American society “associates more people of color with crime and therefore does not care as much when a black person disappears,” he added.
“There is not much diversity among the people who decide who will be in the news,” said Martin Reynolds of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
Aware of this prejudice, Campbell and other internet users are now posting messages to locate other missing persons, such as young Asian Lauren Cho or African-American Celani Day.
In a strange coincidence, Day’s body was found Thursday afternoon by authorities in Lashall, Illinois, but the cause of his death remains unknown.
The fact that some internet users are publishing more unknown cases “is very good”, Reynolds estimates. But the real responsibility lies with the journalists, who “should ensure that they treat all cases on an equal footing.”