Editor’s Note: Holly Thomas is a writer and editor based in London. She is morning editor at Katie Couric Media. She tweets @HolstaT. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. View more opinion articles on CNN.
On Sunday, human remains consistent with the description of Gabby Petito, the “van life” blogger who disappeared while on a cross-country van trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie and whose fate has stirred a growing digital frenzy, were found in Wyoming. On Tuesday, a tweet from the FBI Denver field office confirmed the remains found were those of Petito, who was reported missing on September 11, and said “the initial determination for the manner of death is homicide.”
A police affidavit filed last week for a search warrant indicated that before she vanished Petito’s conversations with her mother appeared to reveal “more and more tension” between Petito and Laundrie. As of last weekend, roughly 50 law enforcement officers from five local agencies and the FBI were searching for Laundrie, who hasn’t been named a suspect or charged, and hasn’t been seen since September 14.
Every element of the disturbing circumstances surrounding Petito’s disappearance and death has been dissected across the internet and discussed constantly in the news over the last few days. The couple’s August 12 encounter with the police in Utah during which Petito described a fight between herself and Laundrie that morning. The TikTok-er who claimed that she and her boyfriend gave Laundrie a ride on August 29 in Wyoming. The odd text message from Petito’s phone on August 30, which her family doubts was written by Gabby herself.
Everything has been combed over again and again, the public obsessing over theories, the media racing to deliver each new tidbit of information. It feels impossible that something horrific could have happened to a young woman whose life and relationship – documented on her beautiful Instagram grid – appeared to be perfect. The fact that it likely wasn’t – and that the stories of most women who go missing remain untold – both speak to a darker truth about the dangers all women face every day.
A 2018 United Nations study on homicide found that of the 87,000 women intentionally killed worldwide in 2017, 58% were killed by intimate partners or family members. More than a third of the women were killed by their current or former intimate partner. According to UN Women, almost one in three women globally over the age of 15 have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life, mostly by current or former partners. Statistically, the most dangerous place for women is their own home.
Yet while all wo