narcissists, psychology, true crime, videos, YouTube

Should we have all seen it coming?

Although she’s been all over the news all week, I’ve been cautiously waiting to write more about Gabrielle Petito. Even though I kind of knew deep down that the dead body found in Wyoming would probably end up belonging to her, I hesitated to state outright that she was deceased. I didn’t want to get on the bandwagon of assumptions that people often get on in cases like hers.

This is so sad. She was such a lovely young woman with her whole life ahead of her.

I also initially couldn’t bring myself to comment much on this case. So many people were offering opinions that they were very certain about. I still didn’t feel like I had enough information, although the signs were certainly there that Gabrielle Petito was a victim of abuse perpetrated by her boyfriend. Even now, in spite of the many creepy and disturbing signs that Gabby’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is an abuser and potentially a murderer, I don’t want to make that statement outright. Because, in spite of all of the damning signs, I still don’t know for sure. I can only strongly assume, and I feel like there’s enough assuming going on right now. The truth is, a lot of this story is still pretty mysterious, especially since Mr. Laundrie is still missing. At this point, he’s still just a “person of interest”.

What I do know is that abusers come in all shapes, sizes, sexes, and flavors. So, I also hesitate to be among my friends who have been posting things like this…

While I totally agree about trying to teach children not to be abusive, I also know from personal experience that this is a lesson that EVERYONE needs to learn. And sometimes even when you try to teach it, the lesson still gets lost.

Also, sadly, I don’t think this is a lesson that can always be taught. Sometimes a parent can do their very best to teach their children right from wrong, and the kid still grows up to be an abuser. I think some people are just naturally prone to have bad intentions. I can think of a lot of families I’ve known… good, hardworking, decent folks… who have one or two people in their ranks that aren’t quite as upstanding as the rest of the family. So I don’t automatically put the actions of an abuser on the parents. It’s not always their fault.

I don’t know a thing about Brian Laundrie or his parents, so at this point, I really can’t judge the parents for what their son might have done to his girlfriend. But, the other day, I did watch the entire body cam video of the traffic stop involving Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito in Moab, Utah. The video was over an hour in length, so I can’t say I was watching it very intently. I do remember hearing how friendly and at ease Brian seemed to be with the police, even as Gabrielle was crying and clearly upset.

I wonder how the officers involved in this case feel now…

I do want to commend the cops for treating Petito and Laundrie professionally. They were especially kind to Gabby, letting her sit in air conditioning and giving her water. On the other hand, I heard the main cop, who was primarily in charge, repeatedly talking about Gabby to Brian as if they were buddies. He related his story about his own wife, who has “anxiety issues” and needs medication. I don’t think the cop’s wife’s mental health issues are necessarily relevant to this situation. It sounded to me like the officer was making some assumptions without knowing all of the facts. I can’t blame him too much for that. We all do it to some extent. I also think he truly was trying to help, which is commendable, although I think maybe he got a little too friendly with Laundrie. I wonder if the cop would have been as friendly if Laundrie and Petito weren’t young, attractive, white people.

In the wake of the video and the news about Petito’s remains being found, more people have come out to say that they saw Brian mistreating Gabby in public. But even if those people had come forward sooner, I’m not sure what could have been done. I do remember reading one account of a park ranger who told Gabby that her relationship with Brian appeared to be “toxic”. Melissa Hulls, a visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park in Utah, was among the officers who dealt with the couple when they were stopped in Utah. We don’t see much of what was said to Gabby during the stop, although I do remember hearing the officers discuss whether or not they were going to arrest her for domestic violence against Brian Laundrie. According to the link:

“I was imploring with her to reevaluate the relationship, asking her if she was happy in the relationship with him, and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another path, to make a change in her life,” Hulls said of Petito, who was living with Laundrie and his parents in Florida prior to the trip.

“She had a lot of anxiety about being away from him, I honestly thought if anything was going to change it would be after they got home to Florida,” Hulls added.

I remember all too well crying like Gabby in the calm, assured faces of abusers. They made it seem like I was the “crazy” one. For a long time, I felt like I was crazy. And then, when no one else was watching– or the only other witness was a “flying monkey”– the abusers would go off on a rage. I can also see a red flag in Melissa Hulls’ statement about how Gabby was afraid to be away from Brian. Abusive people like to isolate their victims. They get to the point at which they don’t think they can function on their own. That’s how the abuser wants it to be, because then the victim will always be there to take more abuse.

In the end, the cops decided not to file charges against Petito. Even if they had arrested her, I’m not sure if the outcome would have been any different in the long run. But the fact that Gabby might have been arrested is another wrinkle in this situation. Oftentimes, people who are being abused don’t want to ask for help because if they do fight back, there is a chance that they will be the ones who end up in cuffs. My husband was abused by his ex wife in just about every possible way. He never reported her behavior to the police because he knew that it was just as likely that he’d wind up in trouble. She also had him convinced that everything was his fault. In the above police body cam video, you can hear Gabby talking about how she’d made Brian angry.

Hulls adds that when the stop was made, the police officers really did think it was a mental health situation caused by the two of them being together for too long, living in austere conditions. They had no reason to believe at the time that either party was truly in any danger. More than once, I heard the police refer to Gabrielle’s diminutive size compared to Brian’s, although Brian was the one with visible injuries. And Brian was very calm and friendly, while Gabby was crying and distraught. I think it’s important for people to remember that police officers aren’t necessarily mental health experts. Their job is to assess whether or not crimes are committed and enforce the laws. But clearly, Melissa Hulls got a bad feeling about Brian Laundrie.

Another couple from Louisiana, who happened to be vacationing in Jackson, Wyoming when Gabby and Brian were passing through, remember witnessing a “commotion” at a restaurant. Nina Angelo, and her boyfriend, Matt England, saw Gabby and Brian leaving The Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant on August 27th. Brian was reportedly clearly agitated and angry, going in and out of the restaurant and being abusive toward the wait staff and hostess. The waitress who took care of Gabby and Brian also experienced abuse from Brian and was very shaken. Later that same day, Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, received a strange text that supposedly came from Gabby. It was the last communication she got from her daughter.

Later, on August 29th, a couple in Wyoming gave Brian a ride. They said he offered to pay $200 for the ride, even before he got in their car. The couple said Brian told them Gabby was at the van, working on her blog. But when it turned out the couple was going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, rather than Jackson, Brian allegedly became “very agitated” and asked them to stop the car. He got out of the vehicle near Jackson Dam, less than 30 minutes after they’d picked him up.

These signs that are surfacing now tell us that maybe people should have done more. I think it’s hard to take action in a case that doesn’t seem cut and dry. We’re taught to mind our own business and give people the benefit of the doubt… and there’s also the very real risk that the abuser will turn on those who intervene. There were a few people who did try to do something.

On August 12, someone called the police to report a domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie. In the 911 call, the caller says “We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl… Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off.” Another bystander named Chris reported to the police that he saw Gabby and Brian fighting in Utah. He heard Gabby say something along the lines of “Why do you have to be so mean?” He also saw Gabby punching Brian in the arm and the face, trying to take a cell phone from him. He described their interaction as “aggressive.” Below is a video by the Body Language Guy, who analyzes Laundrie’s body language.

Jesus Enrique Rosas is convinced that Gabby was a victim of abuse.

And yet, even though all of this was going on, no one was willing or able to intervene in time to stop Gabrielle Petito’s murder. The autopsy does confirm that she was killed in a homicide. It certainly looks very much like Brian Laundrie had something to do with it. In fact, it looks like he had everything to do with it. I will be very surprised if it turns out he’s innocent. But until I know that for sure, I hesitate to say he’s asbolutely guilty of murder, because we haven’t heard the whole story yet. What I do think is clear is that he regularly abused his girlfriend and, whether or not she “gave as good as she got”, she’s the one who is definitely dead.

Of course, at this point, it looks like Brian might possibly also be deceased. He has somehow disappeared in Florida, and officials there have brought in deep divers and special equipment to see if he’s somewhere at the bottom of an alligator and snake infested swamp or something. The mystery continues.

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celebrities, music, politics

Poor Leland Sklar…

This morning, I’ve just watched Lee’s latest video. Yesterday, he posted about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. I haven’t had the chance to watch that video yet, but apparently, he got some really shitty comments from people who have basically told him to shut up and play music. I turned on his RBG video now, so I’m listening as I write this. Bill and I have a lunch date for later and I got up late, so I’m kind of rushing to get stuff done.

He really seems hurt.

Ever since the pandemic started, Leland Sklar, who is a world class bass guitar player, has been making videos on YouTube. He sometimes posts two or three videos a day, sharing music and awesome stories. I have discovered new music through him and thoroughly enjoyed his stories of meeting fans on the road, playing with some of my favorite musicians like James Taylor and Carole King, and seeing his adorable basset hounds. Sometimes he shows his dogs playing and howling and Arran will join in.

Really… most of this is just beautiful music. I really don’t think Leland Sklar said anything that earth shattering, but he sure got his share of shit for daring to memorialize a beloved liberal icon who did her damnedest to stay alive until November. She was a champion for women and minorities.

So… I have just finished listening to Lee’s tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the one that has shitty comments calling him a liberal who lives in a “bubble” in Los Angeles. He also said someone sent him a private message that was nasty. You know what Lee’s video for RBG mostly consisted of? Well, about 80% of it consisted solely of a beautiful and well-known piano piece by Claude Debussy, the majestic “Clair de Lune”, which I first heard when I was an undergraduate at what was then known as Longwood College. A music major friend who was focusing on voice and piano played it for me in one of the practice rooms. I have lost touch with the friend, but she gave me a lifelong gift when she introduced that piece to me when I was 19 years old.

I already had “Clair de Lune” on my computer, but Leland’s post inspired me to buy another album with more of Debussy’s elegant music. So, I guess he gave me a gift, and he prompted me to gift iTunes with a sale… and perhaps the artists who played that beautiful music for the recording. How is it that I could leave that tribute feeling gratified and moved, but other people were only prompted to post hateful comments?

I have occasionally gotten nasty comments myself on things I’ve written, mostly on the old blog, where I didn’t moderate comments before they could be posted. Here, I get far fewer, which is a nice thing. Not only do I moderate, but I set this blog so that Google is “discouraged” to index it. It just isn’t worth my time or sanity to deal with trolls. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone like Lee, who has millions of fans around the world. There are some truly fucked up people out there.

What really struck me about Leland’s response video, the first one in this post, is how hurt he sounds as he addresses the “haters”. He strikes me as such a kind and sensitive soul. I have never met Lee, but watching his videos make me feel like I know him somewhat. He shares so much of himself daily, and puts himself out there for anyone who’s interested. And people feel like they can say anything they want to him, emboldened by the fact that he’s a well-known musician and they are anonymous “nobodies” behind a computer screen. Of course, no one is really a “nobody”. Everyone knows someone, and if you’re known by someone, that means you exist and have some level of importance to someone. But I think sometimes people forget that there are real people behind the screen… and maybe you think you know them because you can see and hear them. But you really don’t know them as much as you might think you do…

I think writers and musicians attract a lot of people who think they really know them and what’s in their hearts. I’ve had people assume things about me, and sometimes people project a tone to my words that maybe I don’t really feel. Like, if you heard me speaking rather than just read my words, you might come away with a different idea of what I mean.

Leland Sklar is a liberal musician who lives in Los Angeles. Many people think they know what it means to be a liberal and what’s in their hearts. I have a lot of conservative relatives who equate liberals with communists who want to take away their rights. I have never met a single liberal person who advocates for communism. What I’ve seen are mostly people who champion equality, sometimes in ways that may be objectionable. I don’t agree with all liberal tenets myself. As I get older, I find that I like them more than the conservative tenets I grew up with. Living in different places has changed me. If I hadn’t had all of this exposure to different people and places, maybe I would have stayed more conservative. But then I know conservative people who have lived in many places, too, and they stick with their world views. I try not to automatically assume the worst about them simply because we disagree on politics.

I don’t understand why people can’t simply scroll past things that inspire them to post mean and insulting comments. The Internet is such a huge entity. There’s somewhere online for almost everyone. And no matter what you think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her legacy, there’s no need to be gleeful about her death and post rotten comments like she was a “goblin” or a “walking dead person” for two years. Some people are genuinely hurt and saddened by her passing and what it will mean for the people for whom she advocated, as well as balance to the Supreme Court. The people who are hurting have the right to grieve and express themselves without rudeness from the “peanut gallery”. What’s more, artists, writers, and musicians are here to express themselves. That’s the essence of what they do and of creativity itself. They belong to no one, and no one has the right to tell them to shut up and play, sing, color, write, or whatever else.

Now… time to get in a little guitar practice before I get dressed and head off to lunch with my sweet husband.

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