If you go to Olivia Vitale's Instagram, you learn a lot about her very quickly. She is a self-described documentary filmmaker, has over 300,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, and is followed by more than 1 million people on TikTok. Clicking on the link to her bio takes you to a Direct.me page where you can sign a petition for someone named Grant as well as donate to his GoFundMe. She then includes the usual links to social media. The last option is what feels the most revealing.
There is a tab that simply reads "Send tip." Because the bulk of Olivia's content is true crime-related, I assumed that this was a place for people to send Olivia tips about stories. After clicking on it, I realized it's a tip option as in, "Don't forget to tip your waiter." This in and of itself is one of the many problems with civilians who take it upon themselves to become crime solvers. It's fine to monetize true crime, but some people cross a line.
Olivia Vitale is known as Chronicles of Olivia on social media. She involved herself in the Idaho Murders.
In November 2022, four students at the University of Idaho were brutally killed at their house in Moscow, Idaho.
"The four victims were identified as: Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Wash.; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Ariz.; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho," per TODAY.
A little over six weeks later, police arrested 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger who was then formally charged on Jan. 5, 2023, with four counts of first-degree murder and a count of felony burglary.
Two days before Kohberger's arrest, Olivia sat down with the Goncalves family who reached out to her regarding the murders. Evidently, Kaylee's father, Steve Goncalves, figured out that his daughter followed Olivia on TikTok. So he did what any grieving parent desperate for information would do, he asked Olivia for help. What came of this was a nearly 48-minute video Olivia labeled EXCLUSIVE GONCALVES DOCUMENTARY: Shocking Revelations and Bittersweet Memories Shared.
After the Goncalves family lovingly shares memories of their daughter, they shift to the night she died where they describe in heartbreaking detail what was happening to them when they got the worst call of their lives. The "documentary" then takes a rather irresponsible turn as Steve essentially says this issue is a family issue and he's not going to let "somebody else do a job they can add value to." And it's that very sentence that is echoed in most, if not all, of the so-called Cyber Sleuths of the world.
Chronicles of Olivia is featured heavily in a documentary about Cyber Sleuths and the Idaho Murders.
According to The Daily Beast, #CyberSleuths: The Idaho Murders, is a scathing indictment of social media influencers who fancy themselves as vigilantes. They don't know the rules, and what guidelines they are aware of, they simply disregard them. Olivia is one of the TikTokers featured in the docuseries who took it upon themselves to solve the Idaho Murders case, regardless of who they hurt along the way.
At one point she says, without a hint of self-awareness, "I have more freedom, where I can literally say whatever I want. Versus when you are working for a corporation, legally sometimes there are certain things the reporters can’t talk about."
There is a reason why reporters can and can't say certain things. Some of those reasons are because it could impede an open investigation. For example, allowing a grieving family to throw out theories is not a great idea.
The ethics of monetizing true crime content is certainly a discussion that needs to happen. However it's one thing to discuss a case on a YouTube channel, and it's quite another to insert yourself into an investigation in the hopes of solving it for likes. A complete disregard for the established rules used by trained law enforcement suggests that their goal is glory, not justice. It's pretty telling that as of the time of this writing, one of Olivia's three pinned Instagram posts is a picture of her holding her 100,000 subscribers plaque from YouTube.