In the 30 or so hours between the time the Vermont State Police first issued a news release about Emily Ferlazzo’s disappearance (at 2:35 a.m. on Tuesday) and the arraignment of Joseph Ferlazzo in his wife’s death on Wednesday, there was a statewide manhunt, a media briefing and five press releases.

After posting the initial news on our Facebook pages, the news spread rapidly. A Times Argus post about the case had more than 113,000 views; more than 21,000 engagements; 270 comments; and some 1,200 shares. Similarly, the Rutland Herald post had about 48,000 views; 7,000 engagements; 65 comments and 841 shares.

That is a lot of online activity.

Yesterday, the gruesome details of what everyone suspected was a tragic case of domestic violence were revealed at the arraignment. Emily Ferlazzo was shot; her body cut up in the couple’s camper and stowed there. Joseph Ferlazzo had continued using the vehicle right up until he was taken into custody in St. Albans on Tuesday.

The case was everywhere: TV, radio, social media.

This is on the heels of Gabby Petito, whose fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is the only person of interest in the 22-year-old’s death. The couple had been traveling the country as part of an online blogging adventure. Petito was found to have been strangled to death.

On Wednesday, the FBI said apparent human remains were found near Carlton Reserve in Florida, where officials have been searching for Laundrie for weeks now. Some of Laundrie’s personal items were found nearby, and his parents had indicated the nature reserve was where their son said he was headed the last time the saw him. Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on Sept. 17, two days before Petito’s body was found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

For weeks, Petito’s face has been on social media and television; the case being followed daily.

These cases are tragic, heartbreaking.

Ferlazzo’s arraignment likely appears today on the front page of every Vermont daily newspaper. There’s also a strong chance most will run an article on an inside wire page about Laundrie’s remains.

And we mention it here.

Petito’s case garnered widespread media attention — as well as criticism of news outlets for not covering similar cases involving people of color.

In an article in Wednesday’s Washington Post, journalist Jeremy Barr explored the question: How much media coverage should one news story get?

“(T)he heavy coverage of (Petito’s) story has reignited a long-standing debate about whether the American media disproportionately covers tragedies involving young White women while largely ignoring the plights of missing women of color, who do not regularly generate national coverage.”

The article quotes CNN contributor Ana Navarro, who issued a call on Instagram for more inclusive coverage. “I want to take nothing away from this horrible case. My thoughts are w/her family,” she wrote. “I just want there to be same interest and energy [for] every disappeared young woman in America — Brown, Black, Native-American, transgender.”

Barr quotes Omékongo Dibinga, a professor at American University, who told the Post, “People just don’t see us in the same way that they see these White women and White girls ... “We want the Petito family and everybody else to get justice, but we’re just saying that we want some of that (coverage), too, and we don’t get it.”

The same criticism can be leveled (and has been) here in Vermont.

Ralph “Rizz” Jean-Marie, a person of color living in Barre, disappeared in April 2020. His case has drawn widespread criticism because friends, family and victims’ advocates claim police have not conducted a thorough investigation on Jean-Marie’s disappearance because of his skin color and because he was known to law enforcement for being tied to drugs.

Krystal Bailey, of Barre, also known to police, disappeared in February 2017, after fleeing an accident scene near Plainfield’s village. She was supposedly swept away by a swelling brook. Despite a search in the area, Bailey was never found, and law enforcement has never given a satisfactory answer as to why the search — or the investigation into her disappearance — was called off, or suspended.

Tragedy takes many forms. Every person — regardless of skin color, class, gender, or mental state — deserves the same respect in the eyes of those finding the answers to their cases, and those telling their stories.

We are all somebody’s somebody. We all matter.

If you need immediate assistance, dial 911 or call the state’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-228-7395.

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