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A Tortoise File

True Crime: The tragedy of Gabby Petito

When Gabby Petito’s body is discovered, her case mobilises a whole army of digital detectives and citizen journalists

True Crime: The tragedy of Gabby Petito

First published
Tuesday 19 October 2021

Last updated
Tuesday 19 October 2021

Why this story?

Gabby Petito documented her life online. As she and her boyfriend Brian travelled across the States in her small white van she posted images of herself on beaches and in national parks. Her Instagram feed is full of pictures of the two of them amid beautiful scenery, or just hanging out in their tent. It all looks beautiful, curated and carefree. But then she disappears, and other images emerge. This time it’s footage of a clearly distressed Gabby taken from a police body camera, and it seems to tell a darker story. Suddenly there’s an army of digital sleuths, citizen journalists, activists and influencers all on the case. When she’s found murdered it goes into overdrive. The manhunt, and the crime that preceded it, is interrogated, re-told and repackaged with frenzied fascination. A true crime story happening in real time. Katie Gunning

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