KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE: In a chilling echo of the high-profile case of Gabby Petito, the mysterious disappearance of Layla Santanello, 21, of Kingsport, Tennessee, has left her family searching for answers.
Nearly five months after Layla disappeared without a trace, her mother, Jennifer Santanello, draws parallels with the Petito case and launches a heartfelt appeal for help, especially from the YouTube community.
Also read: Murder of Gabby Petito: Brian Laundrie’s lawyer asks judge to block request to reveal his private conversations with the killer
Layla Santanello appeared to be in distress in the days leading up to her disappearance (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)
Layla was last seen leaving an ice cream shop on June 27, barefoot and apparently in distress, heading toward a Five Below across the road.
Jennifer, grappling with fading hope of finding her daughter alive, tirelessly urged the public, especially those who were in Kingsport that fateful day, to check their dashcam footage and devices for a glimpse of Layla .
She made a poignant comparison to Petito, whose case saw a breakthrough after a YouTuber captured crucial video of his abandoned van.
Also Read: Internet Delves Into Theory About Brian Laundrie’s Mother’s Role In His Death As She Goes Out In His Mustang
What is the controversy surrounding the murder of Gabby Petito?
Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old woman, disappeared while on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, in August 2021. Laundrie returned home to Florida without Petito and was identified by law enforcement order as a person of interest. in his disappearance.
Also Read: Who is Adam Taylor Fravel? Man who threatened partner by telling her ‘she would end up like Gabby Petito’ faces murder charges
View this post on Instagram
Tragically, her lifeless body was discovered in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, about a month after she went missing. Laundrie was later found dead in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park and had confessed to Petito’s murder in a note.
View this post on Instagram
Layla Santanello’s mother, Jennifer Santanello, noted the potential significance of similar footage in her daughter’s case.
She noted, “There are a lot of people in Kingsport who are just learning about Layla’s disappearance. June 27 may not be a special date for anyone else, and they may not think to watch, but please watch because you never know what the ‘we could wait. find.”
“Isn’t it Gabby Petito who was found after another YouTuber got a glimpse of her van? If they hadn’t checked their footage, they would never have known. We need “Help; we need support from the community, we need help from those who live here, and we need help from people across the country,” the mother added.
Jennifer mentioned, “If she’s out there somewhere, I need everyone to know I’m looking for her. I need everyone to see her face,” according to The Sun.
Layla Santanello appeared disheveled and paranoid before disappearing
The last known sighting of Layla Santanello was at the Marble Slab Creamery on North Eastman Road. Dressed in a white tank top, black leggings and no shoes, her subsequent movements remain a baffling mystery.
Jennifer painstakingly retraced Layla’s footsteps, revealing a series of harrowing events that led to her disappearance.
According to Jennifer, Layla and her boyfriend had an argument a few days prior, which led to her staying with friends before checking into the Americourt Motel on June 25. Witnesses reported that Layla looked disheveled and paranoid, apparently “trying to hide in the shadows.”
On June 26, she was seen going door to door in a state of distress, refusing offers of help from worried strangers.
View this post on Instagram
“There was some sort of commotion in another part of the hotel and people who were outside that evening saw her panicking and running through the parking lot into the woods behind the motel,” Jennifer said.
She added: “She apparently stayed in these woods until morning. When she got up, she was seen walking across a field next to a warehouse, where a man said it looked like She was trying to find something in the grass.”
“She asked someone for a cigarette, but they didn’t smoke, and then she took off towards the Kingsport Greenbelt Trail,” the mother continued.
Jennifer pointed out, “And – this is the part that really interests me, so if anyone saw it that morning, please come forward – around noon, a Marble Slab employee [ice cream store] I found her on the back patio, sitting under an umbrella at one of the tables.”
She added: “She looked disheveled, distressed and distraught, so she gave him some ice cream and they chatted for a bit. […] She told him she was going to go to Five Below to buy shoes, but she never got there.”
Distressing events leading to the disappearance of Layla Santanello
The events that unfolded took a more confusing turn when Jennifer Santanello received messages from Layla Santanello’s Facebook account, purportedly from her boyfriend, asking if Layla was in jail or the hospital.
She texted her mother later that night, saying “I’m fine mom […] I was with a friend [sic]. I don’t have a phone to text or call. I’m using someone else’s [sic]”.
About two weeks after her disappearance, Jennifer began receiving disturbing Cash App requests from Layla’s account, coupled with threatening messages. Jennifer thought her daughter might be being held hostage, but authorities later revealed it was an elaborate prank perpetrated by someone posing as Layla.
Despite the traumatic experiences of the past few months, Jennifer remains determined to find her daughter. The recent disappearance of 19-year-old Hollynn Snapp in Kingsport, just a few miles from her daughter’s last known location, added to Jennifer’s concerns.
Making connections between the two cases, the two mothers suspect a potential connection, expressing fears of trafficking and even more sinister possibilities. “It’s a scary world we live in these days […] anything is possible,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer, alongside Hollynn’s mother, held a vigil for their missing daughters on November 10, seeking public support and awareness. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to fund private investigators and is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to Layla.
The mother’s unwavering determination is reflected in her plea: “If you know something, please say something… There is a whole family that is hurt right now because we don’t know what happened to us.”
Anyone with information that can help locate the two women is asked to contact the Kingsport Police Department at (423) 343-9780.
What happened to Matthieu Luka? Roberta and Chris Laundrie lose their lawyer before Gabby Petito’s trial
Brian Laundrie’s parents offer secret settlement to Gabby Petito’s family as new documents leaked ahead of civil trial next year