Alexander J. Frangie

There are two main reasons the murder of Gabby Petito reached the top of the 

national headlines. One, the level of documentation via her social media pages and 

recordings of a domestic disturbance between Petito and Laundrie at a motel in Moab, Utah 

caught on police dashcams before her death. Two, the overlying factor connecting this case 

with similar cases that gained national coverage known as Missing White Women Syndrome. 

Missing White Woman Syndrome is a relic of the American caste system and is in 

reference to the media coverage of missing-persons cases involving young, white upper 

middle-class women or girls. The root cause of White Woman Syndrome is gender and racial 

discrimination and stereotypes of young white Christian women being depicted as pure, 

clean, nurturing, and gentle, and other ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural groups, and social 

classes as violent, brutal savages. As humans continue to remove artificial social barriers that 

separate us all from the fact that we are all humans, we must take steps to ensure that 

no person, whatever their background, can be taken for granted and deserve life not to be 

taken or exploited by others and veer away from long-outdated stereotypes of others.

People who rally behind Gabby Petito don’t bat an eye or acknowledge the dozens of 

Native American women who often disappear in groups representing the largest majority of 

victims in sex trafficking rings, raped and murdered in the wilderness even within the same 

area where the remains of Gabby Petito were discovered. 

One of the most prominent effects of Missing White Woman Syndrome is the 

creation of laws named in the memory of those who went missing and were murdered. Most 

notably, Caylee Anthony whose death led to the passing of Caylee’s law. Although tragic,  

similar scenarios occur every day, the only difference is that the majority of missing and 

murdered people are at the bottom of America‚Äôs caste system and the few at the top get the 

most coverage and attention therefore the most amount of resources put into their 


  Gabby Petito and many other missing women never intended their names to 

be soiled by becoming part of the ongoing problem of discrimination in the United States 

and around the world. Missing White Woman Syndrome is proof humans have not come 

far from right-wing discriminatory ideologies. It is important to acknowledge no matter the 

age, or gender, all people are potential targets for violence by other human beings.