A number of QAnon conspiracy theorists have decided that Gabby Petito’s disappearance is a hoax in order to distract people from other news stories, or that the 22-year-old doesn’t even exist.
Followers of the radical movement frequently suggest major news events are so-called “false flags” that have been orchestrated by the government or the “deep state” to help push an agenda.
This narrative is often used by QAnon after mass shootings or events that could paint them in a bad light, such as the January 6 attack or the recent “Justice for J6” rally in D.C. on September 18.
In the case of Petito, QAnon supporters now believe that the intense media interest in the case of the woman whose body is believed to have been found in Wyoming is nothing more than an attempt to make people forget about recent criticism aimed at President Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Some users even went so far as to suggest that the people involved in the investigation are so-called “crisis actors” with fake names.
“Think it’s interesting her name is Gabby Petito and his name is Brian Laundrie. Gabby Petito = small talk Brian Laundrie = dirty laundry. Always suspicious of missing persons making huge news,” an anonymous post on the messageboard site 8Kun, which became the online hub of the QAnon conspiracy theory having previously emerged on 4chan and then 8Chan.
“Brian Laundrie? Brain = Brain. Laundrie = Laundry = Wash. BRAINWASH is what his name means. Definitely an operation,” one Telegram user wrote.
Referencing the QAnon supporter who was killed during the Capitol riot and the officer who shot her, another person wrote on 8Kun: “Ashley Babbitt, Gabby Petito, Brian Sicknick. Made up names for made up character actors.”
In the wake of the January 6 attack, a number of QAnon supporters suggested Babbitt was still alive and her death was yet another false flag operation.
Other QAnon supporters also agreed that the rolling news coverage around Petito and Laundrie is a distraction technique from the media. Some linked it to the apparent “false flag” in Washington, D.C. over the weekend as fears that hundreds of extremists would return to the Capitol to attend the “Justice for J6” rally failed to materialize.
“My initial thoughts when this story came out was that this is a blatant distraction because their FF [false flag] failed this weekend. The FF was supposed to fill their air time,” Telegram user JR wrote.
Fellow Telegram user Cindy added: “This is nothing but a stupid distraction!!! The FBI squirrel to take the heat off Audits/Covid/Border/Afghanistan.”
On Sunday, authorities confirmed that a body discovered on Sunday in Wyoming is believed to be Petito, although an autopsy has not yet been completed to confirm this.
Her fiancé has been named as a person of interest in her disappearance after he returned home from the pair’s cross-country trip without the 22-year-old on September 1.
Laundrie, who refused to speak to investigators about Petito’s disappearance, has not been seen since September 14. North Port Police have been searching the vast 24,500-acre Carlton Reserve near his parents home for him.