As Gabby Petito became a hashtag during the fall of 2021 after she disappeared on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend and was later found dead, a singer claimed that Petito was part of a music video filmed to commemorate another tragedy that occurred years before.
The music video for the song “Irreplaceable” was sung by Deb Henson and filmed over two days in 2013. It commemorated a December 2012 school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, which resulted in the killing of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary. The video shows children holding signs that call on others to “be kind” and say “I deserve a future.”
At around 3:27, we see a young girl drawing, and then holding, a sign saying, “Irreplaceable.” According to Henson, that girl was Petito.
Henson told The Independent that Gabby and her brothers were a part of the video after her stepmother, Tara Petito, gave permission when a mutual friend connected them. At the time, Gabby was only 14 years old.
She added, “Gabby’s an artist, that’s why we had her drawing under the tree in the video. She was destined to do great things. Great things will happen from this.”
Henson also told People magazine: “Working with Gabby was awesome. She was just a sweet girl who wanted to help and be involved. She was full of love for everyone. I think that’s why this story has resonated. You can feel her love for life […] It’s profound and ironic that she was in this specific video. Her family are good people and don’t deserve such agony and tragedy, no one does. I know her family will find the positive eventually and do great things in the name of Gabby.”
The funeral home where Gabby’s memorial service took place uploaded a video of photographs of her over the years that was put together by her family.
We deduced that it is likely the girl in the “Irreplaceable” music video could be Petito, but without official confirmation from her friends or family, we are unable to say for sure. We have reached out to the family friend who originally connected Tara Petito to Henson, and we will update this post if we get more information.
Gabby’s story gained national attention earlier in September after her then-boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned alone from a cross-country trip they were taking together. A few days later, her family reported her as missing. On Sept. 19, 2021, her remains were found in a national park in Wyoming. A few days later, the FBI confirmed that she had been killed by someone. Authorities are still searching for Laundrie, who is considered a person of interest in the case, and was reported missing by his family on Sept. 17, 2021.
Since we have no family member confirming this video as of yet, we rate this claim as “Unproven.”
Barron, James. “Nation Reels After Gunman Massacres 20 Children at School in Connecticut.” The New York Times, 14 Dec. 2012. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/nyregion/shooting-reported-at-connecticut-elementary-school.html. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“Gabby Petito.” Moloney Family Funeral Homes, https://www.moloneyfh.com/obituary/gabby-petito/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“Gun Violence Awareness Music Video That Starred Gabby Petito Resurfaces After Her Death.” PEOPLE.Com, https://people.com/crime/gabby-petito-irreplacable-music-video-resurfaces-after-death/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
Hanna, Jason, Leyla Santiago and Sara Weisfeldt. “Timeline of Events since Gabby Petito’s Fiancé Returned to Florida Becomes Clearer.” WFSB, https://www.wfsb.com/news/timeline-of-events-since-gabby-petitos-fianc-returned-to-florida-becomes-clearer/article_546ec006-53da-51b0-b88d-30b709d8f235.html. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“Long Island Native’s Music Video Holds New Meaning after Death of Gabby Petito.” News 12 – The Bronx, https://bronx.news12.com/long-island-natives-music-video-holds-new-meaning-after-death-of-gabby-petito. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“’Most Amazing Person’: Gabby Petito’s Father Delivers Eulogy at LI Service.” KRON4, 26 Sept. 2021, https://www.kron4.com/news/gabby-petito-memorial-service-to-be-held-on-long-island/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“Song Featuring Gabby Petito Aged 14 to Be Re-Recorded to Raise Money for Her Charity.” The Independent, 27 Sept. 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/gabby-petito-foundation-music-video-b1928047.html. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“Where Is Brian Laundrie? Timeline of FBI Search for Gabby Petito’s Boyfriend.” WGN-TV, 21 Sept. 2021, https://wgntv.com/news/where-is-brian-laundrie-timeline-of-fbi-search-for-gabby-petitos-boyfriend/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.