Backseat investigators are having a field day with Brian Laundrie’s disappearance.
As we’ve been reporting, the Laundrie family reported him missing shortly after his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, was reported missing on September 11. Now that Gabby’s body has been found and her death ruled a homicide, suspicions about Brian’s involvement are higher than ever. As such, the search for the 23-year-old has taken on an even greater urgency — and social media is on the case.
The discussion as to whether TikTok (and other social media detectives) has been helpful to Gabby’s case has also grown more heated in recent days. We previously pointed out that there’s a danger of innocent people being caught in the crossfire when the social media mob decides they’ve found the culprit. As it turns out, that’s exactly what’s happening.
A Facebook user named Sam Bass shared a grainy trail photo on Monday, captioning the post:
“I’m not saying this is the guy but whoever was on my trail camera this morning in Baker, Fl strongly fits the description of Brian Laundrie, authorities have been contacted but people in the North West Florida area be on the look out.”
The post had thousands of comments and was shared over 40,000 times. But on Tuesday, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office reposted the image and explained:
“Update: The OCSO did its due diligence in response to this report and is wrapping up an extensive search that took place in this area to also include nearby farmlands and a search by drone.
No one – and nothing – of note was located. There are no known possible past or current connections between Laundrie and anyone in this area at this time to follow up on.
In the meantime we will remain vigilant and if anything new of significance develops we will share.”
Faux Laundrie sightings aren’t limited to Florida, however. Law enforcement in Mobile, Alabama have reportedly received “more than a dozen” tips about Brian, despite the fact that he has no ties to the area, according to FOX10 news.
Capt. Paul Burch of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office told the outlet:
“They’ve varied from the suspect hitchhiking or walking down the street in Wilmer and turns his head every time a car passes. We’ve dispatched a vehicle for each and every call and verified that the person was not Laundrie.”
In fact, he added:
“There was one gentleman walking I-10, you know, which you’re really not supposed to do. However, he was checked by Mobile PD. Between Mobile PD and us, he was checked seven times. And so, I finally said, ‘Give him a ride to the state line, and that way won’t be getting calls and tying up units unnecessarily.’”
Dang — cops are literally giving hitchhikers rides just to stop the false tips. Things are getting really desperate out there.
Burch promised that his office “will always check out every” tip, just in case. But it certainly sounds like fervent interest in Gabby’s story and increasing paranoia are leading to a lot of wild accusations. We continue to hope Brian is found soon, both for the good of the investigation and so that the public will stop pointing fingers at every man who vaguely fits his description.
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