For those of us watching the Gabby Petito case from the beginning, there’s been something agonizing about it, like the feeling of a runaway train crash in slow motion. It seemed pretty obvious from Day 1 that young Ms. Petito was murdered and it also seemed pretty obvious that her boyfriend and fiancé Brian Laundrie was the prime suspect.
We deduced that because the two went on a road trip together, then she went missing and he came home without her and refused to talk to anyone about it. Yeah, super suspicious.
Now, in that early phase, there was still a possibility we were wrong. We didn’t know for sure. Maybe Gabby Petito realized Laundrie was a total loser who didn’t even have his own cellphone or mode of transportation and was trying to kick her out because she had the audacity to speak out loud (something Brian had heard about but never experienced himself). Maybe she kicked him to the curb and found a real man, or maybe she just decided to be alone and live her best life without a parasitic mooch sucking away her youth. And maybe she was embarrassed and/or heartbroken about having posted all the social media pictures and videos and just wanted some time to be alone without contacting home.
By the sound of it, it was unlike Gabby to go radio silent like this, but it was always theoretically possible.
That said, the police certainly still considered Laundrie a “person of interest.”
Then they released the bodycam footage, showing a scared, sad, and confused Ms. Petito and an arrogant, aloof Brian who basically admits he had bogarted the keys and was making sure she couldn’t leave him behind. In reality, of course, Gabby was the one rightfully scared of being left behind and told police Brian had shoved her face out of the car and tried to leave.
This is Abuser Behavior 101. Of course, we don’t know fully what happened before, during, and after their physical encounter, which was deemed domestic violence, but it seems pretty safe to say that at that point, Brian should have easily slid from the designation of “person of interest” to “suspect.”
Now maybe, one might argue, they didn’t want to call him a suspect early on because they were afraid he would run. After all, the case was going viral, people were protesting in front of his house, if he felt all the walls closing in, there was a chance he would bail. Ok, fine–but you still need to keep an eye on him so that he doesn’t, you know, BAIL!
That police announced in the course of a single weekend that not only had they found Gabby’s body and confirmed her manner of death was a homicide but that Brian Laundrie–the man who was somehow the prime suspect in everyone’s mind except the law enforcement personnel charged with investigating Ms. Petito’s disappearance and then killing–was missing is simply mind-boggling. It shows a simply mind-boggling demonstration of the prevalence of white abuser privilege in the highest echelons of law enforcement, including the FBI.
Maybe Brian Laundrie isn’t the killer. Okay, anything is possible. But it really, really looks like he is and it’s looked that way from the beginning. Every new development and witness report has reinforced that suspicion and it’s simply incredible with a case this popular in the media that the police didn’t have officers tailing him and surveilling his movements after returning from a trip on which his girlfriend disappeared. As soon as he lawyered up and refused to talk to the police or Gabby’s family, it was obvious that protecting his own ass was more important to him than finding out what happened to his lover (which is a strong indication that he had something ghastly to hide).
Let’s hope they find Ms. Petito’s killer as well as a preponderance of evidence proving his guilt. If that person is Brian Laundrie, though, and they’re unable to apprehend him, Florida law enforcement is going to have some serious explaining to do.