Family and friends gathered to mourn at the funeral of Gabby Petito in New York on Sunday, as a manhunt for her fiancé Brian Laundrie continues. In North Port, Fla., where Petito lived with Laundrie and his parents, mourners set up a memorial across from City Hall, leaving balloons, teddy bears and signs in her memory.
At the service held at Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home in Long Island, N.Y., Petito’s father remembered her passion for travel: “I want you to take a look at these pictures, and I want you to be inspired by Gabby,” her father, Joseph Petito said. “If there’s a trip you guys want to take, take it now. Do it now while you have the time. If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now.” Joseph Petito on Saturday also announced the formation of ‘The Gabby Petito Foundation,’ which will aim to provide resources and guidance to families of missing children.
Prior to the ceremony, Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt posted to Facebook sharing a series of family photos as she thanked people who have shared support for the family online. “As I scroll through all the posts, my heart is full of love,” she wrote. “I wish I could reach out and hug each and every one of you!!! Your support has been so overwhelming and we are so filled with gratitude.”
Petito’s body was found in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park after her family reported her missing while she and Laundrie were on a cross-country road trip. Her death has been ruled a homicide. Laundrie, 23, has been named a person of interest by North Port Police after he returned home on Sept. 1 without her and the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued an arrest warrant against him Wednesday after a federal grand jury indicted Laundrie on a single count of unauthorized access to a debit card and two bank accounts.