Scammy Psychic TikTokers Claimed To Know What Happened To Gabby Petito
Earlier this week, a coroner confirmed that a body found in a national park in Wyoming was that of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, whose whereabouts had been unknown since her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, with whom she had been traveling, returned home to Florida without her on September 1. In the weeks that Petito had been missing, her disappearance became a social media phenomenon, particularly on TikTok — at least in part due to the fact that she and Laundrie had been documenting their #VanLife road trip on social media.
It wasn't surprising that many amateur detectives and true crime aficionados had thoughts and theories on the case. It wasn't great that they decided to share them publicly or on TikTok before there was anything certain about the case in hopes of attracting a following, it was perhaps a little skeezy, but it probably wasn't harmful. But as it turns out, that is not all that was going on.
"Skepchick" Rebecca Watson reported on Friday that there was (and is) a slew of Sylvia Browne wannabes on the site claiming that their magic psychic powers were telling them what happened to Petito before she was found.
The amateur detective shit, and the obvious profiting from the (likely) murder of a young woman for social media clout, is bad enough. Worse, in my opinion, are the "psychics" who smell blood in the water. In the same way that Sylvia Browne profited off the pain and uncertainty of the families of missing people 20 years ago, people like Angela "the Unicorn Witch" (nearly 120 thousand followers and 2.6 million likes) have hopped on TikTok to let the world know that she psychically discerned what happened to Gabby, and she would be happy to share her knowledge if Gabby's grieving family gets in touch with her. According to her website, she only charges $150 for a 45-minute spiritual reading! A real deal, considering that she has exactly the same amount of psychic ability as Sylvia Browne (zero), who charged something like $400 an hour.
The Unicorn Witch isn't the only one — TikTok is absolutely infested with people claiming to have a link to the spiritual world that will tell them what happened to Gabby, like this parasite.
In her video, the $150 an hour Unicorn Witch claims that while she couldn't share her psychically divined intel in the video, she did do the right thing and contacted the police in order to leave a "tip." This is also bad. Tiplines are supposed to be for people with actual information and people filling them up with psychic nonsense is not helpful.
The disturbing thing is, there are so many more of them. Search for "Gabby Petito psychic" and pages and pages come up. And it's not just Gabby Petito. Many of the "psychics" weighing in on her situation have channels filled with emotionally manipulative videos in which they use their "magic powers" to discern what happened to missing children.
Like this woman who "doesn't make these kinds of videos unless I know what I feel is accurate," who shared her psychic thoughts on the disappearance of Kyron Horman, who has been missing since 2010 after having been seen at a science fair with his stepmother, with "Tears In Heaven" playing in the background.
Reply to @momgoneweird #roadto500k #LIZMOTT #boomspoton #mediumshipreadings #missingperson #missingpeople #missingkids
Now, there are likely lots of people out there who, like "psychiclizmott," believe the child probably didn't survive and that the stepmother did it. The stepmother, Terri Moulton, has been one of the only suspects since the beginning. But those people are not claiming that they have this information from divine sources, and there is a very big difference there.
This woman, intuitivehealer22, has shared her thoughts on a variety of missing children cases, including that of missing Nebraska child Ryan Larsen.
Ryan Larsen #ryanlarsen #ryanlarsenmissing #missingkids #psychic #nebraska #helpfindhim #katiemaikepsychic
This shit is fucking evil.
As Watson notes, this is something that Sylvia Browne used to do. She told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck and Amanda Berry that their children were dead and they turned out not to be. Hornbeck turned up a few years after Browne's prediction, having been held captive by Michael J. Devlin. In Berry's case, her mother gave up on trying to find her and died thinking that her daughter had been murdered and would never be found. But Amanda Berry was found, in 2013, escaping from Ariel Castro's basement, where she had been held for over a decade with two other girls.
I get playing with tarot cards or being interested in your horoscope. It's not my personal jam, but I can see how some people find it enjoyable. I even understand how people can find comfort in believing a medium is connecting them with a beloved relative. I don't personally believe that anyone has magic powers, but it's understandable and as long as people aren't being too severely scammed, they should do whatever gets them through the day.
But there is such a big difference between those things and someone claiming that their magic powers are telling them what happened to a missing child. Or a missing teenager. Or a missing adult. Even if they're not charging for their services or contacting the families directly and they're just doing it online to gain followers so they can become an influencer or whatever — this is beyond cruel. Because there is an almost 100 percent chance that those families have alerts up on every possible site for their loved one's name, that they are spending all of their free time looking for some kind of lead, and to fuck with them like that when they are in that kind of vulnerable state is just cruel. It should not be allowed.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse