Roundtable Discussion on Gabby Petito's Death Spotlights Media's Coverage of Missing Persons Cases

Gabby Petito, 22, vanished while on a cross country road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Photo: Gabby Petito Instagram

Investigation Discovery hosted a roundtable discussion covering many aspects of the Gabby Petito case that has gripped the nation — including the media's coverage of missing persons cases.

"I think things have changed a little bit in light of the new era that we are in post George Floyd I think people aren't as scared to talk about race and how we cover stories," People Magazine writer Elaine Aradillas said during Investigation Discovery's Gabby Petito: ID Special Report, airing Oct. 13.

"There are a couple of things that need to be done in terms of getting people of color inside newsrooms, getting leaders inside police departments that are issuing the missing alerts. They need to be people of color or you just need to have really good allies in the news room to recognize, 'Yes, we need to cover all sorts of people.'"

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito. North Port Police Department/Facebook

The hour-long special report, moderated by Emmy-award winning journalist and host of TLC's Find Love Live Sukayana Krishnan, also features victims' rights advocate John Walsh, who hosts In Pursuit with John Walsh; former Brooklyn homicide prosecutor and host of ID's True Conviction Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi; PeopleTV's Reality Check host and expert true crime podcaster Daryn Carp; and Michelle Sigona, a national crime television producer and reporter.

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The experts discuss Petito's tragic story, the signs of domestic violence that surrounded her death, and the role that social media played in fueling the frenzied interest in her case.

The show will also focus on why Petito's story garnered so much media attention while thousands of missing persons cases involving Black, Indigenous and people of color have not.

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One Love CEO Katie Hood will also discuss the warning signs of domestic violence.

Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were on a cross-country trip when she vanished in August.

While she had been blogging upbeat stories and videos of her so-called "van life," police reports and witness statements allege that the trip was filled with arguments and possible domestic abuse.

Gabby Petito in music video
Gabby Petito. Irreplaceable/Youtube

Her body was later found in Grand Teton National Park. She was strangled. Laundrie, who is missing, was officially named a person of interest in her disappearance on Sept. 15.

"Gabby Petito: ID Special Report will be an engrossing exploration of the stark contrast of attention to Gabby's case and that of other missing BIPOC cases, challenging how we, as an industry, need to do better on elevating all stories equally," said Jason Sarlanis, President of Crime and Investigative Content.

Gabby Petito: ID Special Report airs Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 9/8c.

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