TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) — For Jessica Tyson, Gabby Petito’s case is a reminder of loss. “She was just this ball of energy,” she said.
That’s after her sister, Britney Tiger, went missing in February 2018. “That was the last time anybody had heard from her,” Tyson said.
Weeks later, Tiger’s body was found, dumped in a wooded area in Oklahoma. But unlike Petito’s case, Tyson says her sister’s case has dragged on for three-and-a-half years, with little progress.
“I feel that Ada [Oklahoma] police could have done better. They could have looked into it better,” she said.
The Urban Indian Health Institute says more than 5700 indigenous women, like Tiger, have been reported missing since 2016. But Tyson says those cases often don’t make headlines or garner the same social media response as the Petito case.
“What are we, chopped liver?” Tyson said.
WFTS spoke with Mike Peasley, a former law enforcement officer, turned Tampa-area private investigator about the disparity between the cases.
“Social media was huge in Gabby’s case,” she said.
Peasley says he’s seen the differences in those cases, after working on Tiger’s case and that of many other missing indigenous women.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, White, Chinese, indigenous or whatever, the number of people that are missing and then you take into not just the people that are missing, but murdered, the human trafficking aspect, how much attention is being brought to that,” he said.
To help raise awareness about this issue, both Tyson and Peasley are now taking part in a docuseries called “Women Erased.”
“Part of that show, that docuseries, is to shed light on MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), so not just me it’s not just gonna be my sister, it’s going to be someone else’s sister, somebody else’s niece, someone else’s,” said Tyson.
See the full UIHI report with statistics below:
This story was originally published Sept. 29, 2021, by WFTS in Tampa, an E.W. Scripps Company.