Petito case brings hopes for group searching for missing people of color

Park ranger speaks with a colleague on the road to Spread Creek Campground on September 19, 2021 near Moran, Wyoming. Photo credit Natalie Behring/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Hearing the details of Gabby Petito’s case and seeing all the attention it got nationwide is putting some hope for additional spotlight on other unsolved missing persons cases.

Derrica Wilson is the co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, a nonprofit created to “level the playing field.”

“There’s a term — you know the ‘missing white woman syndrome,’ so unless you're blonde hair, fairly attractive with blue eyes, you know, your case is just not sensational enough,” said Wilson.

Wilson says many of the cases involving children of color who go missing are often labeled “runaways,” reducing urgency around the cases.

“Some of our families that we work with, they struggle just to get a police report. They struggle just to get the local media to run their missing loved one on their social media account,” she says.

Wilson hopes those following the Petito case might end up shining a light on other missing cases.

“Because all of these families deserve some sort of closure or reunion,” she says.