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Gabby Petito signaled for help using the domestic violence hand symbol during Moab police stop, web sleuths claim

SOBBING Gabby Petito appeared to signal for help using the domestic violence hand symbol during the Moab police stop before she died, TikTok sleuths have claimed.

On August 12, Gabby and Brian were pulled over by Utah cops after witnesses saw them fighting and she appeared to have marks and bruises on her face and arms, while her fiance's face was scratched.

The gesture involves putting your thumb down and then placing your thumb on top, which a visibly distressed Gabby appeared to do as she spoke to cops about the incident with Laundrie.

One TikTok commentator noted on a video demonstration of the signal that "Gabby did it too, but the cops didn't catch on."

"The fact she started crying even more when she did it just hurt," another person wrote, while a third insisted: "Gabby gave this sign to Moab police [and] they did nothing."

Speaking to KSAZ, Penelope House Executive Director Toni Ann Torrans said she believes Gabby was desperately trying to signal for help and pointed out that domestic violence "knows no bounds."

"Law enforcement has a very tough job determining who is the primary aggressor or the victim acting in self-defense," Torrans said.

"It's very hard to look at those recordings and know what's going on. It's kind of frantic. So you can probably read into it what you want to read into it as far as what she may or may not have done.

"But the bottom line is, I think people need to understand - once again - is that there's a lot of domestic violence in our communities and often the domestic violence escalates to a situation where there is a homicide."

Cops have not confirmed Gabby was doing this gesture for help. The Sun has contacted Moab police for comment and didn't receive a response at the time of publication.

Read our Gabby Petito live blog for the very latest news and updates...

The theory comes after domestic violence experts said the bodycam footage was "triggering" and the vlogger's strangulation death prompted calls for an "I am Gabby" movement, inspired by the Me Too initiative.

Katie Hood from the One Love Foundation said that it was “triggering” to watch Gabby motion toward her neck while sobbing to Moab police officers on August 12, just two weeks before she was last seen alive. 

Hood claimed that Gabby, 22, was in “distress” due to her relationship but attempting to “minimize” the situation.

She also claimed that Gabby was “trying to protect” her fiancé rather than “tell exactly what was going on.”

“When I saw the video, which I had a hard time watching at first, I saw so many signs of someone in distress," Hood told an ID special report on Wednesday night.

'ABUSE STRUGGLE'

"Not someone who was in distress because of mental health issues but someone who very well could be struggling with an abusive relationship. 

“You are so emotional and exhausted when you are in an abusive relationship and you don’t really know which way to go and I saw some of that in her hesitation to answer certain questions.

“I also think you see a minimization of some of the signs for example when she says he didn’t hit me or punch me he just grabbed me right here,” Hood added. 

“As someone in the domestic violence space, anywhere close to the neck for me is very triggering because I know that if someone strangles you, the chances that you will be killed in that relationship goes up seven times.

“In her attempt to minimize his attack on her, I saw someone trying to protect and bring down the heat of a situation rather than tell exactly what was going on.”

'EMOTIONAL AND EXHAUSTED'

Hood said that when she watched the body cam video, she believed it to be “a typical manifestation of someone in a tough situation.”

“Abusive relationships are emotionally exhausting the whole reason we’re trying to teach about unhealthy relationships to young people is so they can see the signs early and get out before they might end up in an abusive situation,” she continued. 

“We know that domestic incidents are a huge consumption of police time, we need better training in this first response team, that first line of response, but really we all need better training

“We tend to miss or minimize the signs of emotional abuse and it’s really the place where intervention is possible and so I think this case will improve training.”

We tend to miss or minimize the signs of emotional abuse and it’s really the place where intervention is possible

Katie Hood of the One Love Foundation

Dr Brent Blue initially said that as per Wyoming law, he could not comment on anything other than the manner and cause of death in an ongoing FBI investigation. 

He did confirm that Gabby was not pregnant at the time of her death and said the investigation had taken DNA samples from her remains that had been outdoors for three to four weeks before her body was found. 

Blue sparked controversy, however, when answering a question about the media attention around the case by stating that it was a “shame” other domestic violence cases do not receive the same coverage. 

Gabby Petito's mom enraged after hearing 911 call about Brian Laundrie hitting vlogger as Moab cops bashed over body cam

Gabby Petito timeline

Gabby Petito, 22, was last seen on August 24, leaving a hotel in Utah. Here is a timeline of Gabby Petito's disappearance:

  • June 2021 - Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country trip across the US.
  • July 4 - Gabby posts photos of herself barefoot in Gove County, Kansas.
  • July 8 - Gabby posts photos of herself at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
  • July 18 - Gabby and Brian post photos of themselves at Utah's Zion National Park.
  • August 12 - Body camera footage was released in September showing an encounter Brian and Gabby had with police in Utah. Police confirmed that no significant injuries were reported.
  • August 19 - Gabby and Brian post a video on their YouTube channel chronicling their trip.
  • August 24 - Gabby is spotted leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • August 25 - Gabby Facetimes her mom, Nichole Schmidt, for the final time. In a later police report, Schmidt said her conversations with her daughter revealed "more and more tension" between her and Brian.
  • August 25 - Gabby also posts her last Instagram. No location is given.
  • August 27 - Gabby is seen for what's believed to be the final time. Witnesses claim they saw Brian in an explosive argument with staff at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, leaving Gabby in tears.
  • August 27 - Four hours later, travel bloggers driving through Grand Teton National Park drive past the couple's van "abandoned" on a dirt road.
  • September 1 - Brian returns home to Florida without Gabby.
  • September 11 - Gabby's parents report her missing to Suffolk County police.
  • September 14 - Brian's family issues a statement saying he has retained an attorney and will not be cooperating with investigators.
  • September 14 - Brian is allegedly last seen by his family. He reportedly told them he was going hiking in Cartlon Reserve but failed to return.
  • September 15 - Florida's North Port police announce Brian is a person of interest in the case. He is not charged with any crime.
  • September 16 - Utah police release body camera footage of the police encounter with Brian and Gabby.
  • September 17 - Brian's parents say they have not seen their son in a couple of days and report him missing.
  • September 18 - Police announce they were searching Carlton Reserve in Florida for Brian. Police announce they have not found anything.
  • September 19 - Authorities in Wyoming say they found a body in Grand Teton National Park. The FBI announces the body was believed to be Gabby's but a full forensic identification needs to be completed first to confirm.
  • September 20 - Police execute a search warrant on Laundrie's home, seizing his silver Mustang and a hard drive that may contain "evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed."
  • September 21 - Officials announce they will be conducting an autopsy on the remains found in Wyoming to confirm whether or not they belong to Gabby. Police also resumed their search for Laundrie, this time on the Venice side of Carlton Reserve.
  • September 21 - The FBI announced the body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabby's. The cause of death was not yet revealed.
  • September 21 - The Teton County Coroner's office said Gabby's official cause of death was still pending but the initial manner of death is homicide.
  • September 22 - Police continue to scour Carlton Reserve for a trace of Laundrie but yield no leads. A specialist dive team is called in to assist with the hunt.
  • September 23 - Officials announced a federal arrest warrant for Brian was issued.
  • September 26 - Gabby's funeral was held on Long Island, New York.
  • October 12: Gabby's autopsy results were made public. Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed Gabby died by strangulation.