Gabby Petito's Father Asks Supporters to Be 'Inspired' at Funeral Held for N.Y. Woman
A funeral was held Sunday for Gabby Petito, the Long Island, N.Y., woman whose remains were recovered last week near Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.
Services for the 22-year-old woman took place in Holbrook, N.Y. after Gabby was found dead last Sunday. Officials have since determined her death was a homicide.
Gabby's father, Joe Petito, thanked everyone for their support in wake of his daughter's disappearance in August. He then asked them not to be sad, but rather "inspired" by Gabby and all she embodied.
"So when you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table," he said, "because the entire planet knows this woman's name now. And she's inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what's best for them first. Put yourself first and do it now while you have the time. I couldn't be more proud as a father."
Gabby's stepfather, Jim Schmidt, spoke of a special tattoo Gabby had on her arm that said "Let It Be" — the title of one of her favorite songs by The Beatles.
One particular verse, Schmidt said, "speaks" to him: "When the broken-hearted people living in the world agree there will be an answer, let it be."
"It's okay to mourn for Gabby, and it's okay to feel sorrow and pain. But we want to celebrate her and how she lived her life," Schmidt said after reading the lyric. "We need to hold on to all of those wonderful memories we shared with her, because that will be the answer. Let it be."
The night before the funeral, Gabby's mother Nichole Schmidt shared a message of gratitude to the family's supporters on Facebook.
"As I scroll through all the posts, my heart is full of love. I wish I could reach out and hug each and every one of you!!!" she wrote alongside a memorial video of her daughter. "Your support has been so overwhelming and we are so filled with gratitude."
"Please know what you are all doing for us does not go unnoticed," she added, "and with all of you by our side, we will get #justiceforgabby 🦋💙🌈."
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Meanwhile, the search has resumed for Gabby's fiancé Brian Laundrie, who hasn't been seen in more than a week. He allegedly told his parents he was going on a hike before he vanished.
For nearly two months, Petito and Laundrie had been traveling across America in a white, repurposed Ford Transit van. Police say Laundrie returned to his parents' Florida home in the van on Sept. 1, and that he was alone.
Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 — more than two weeks after her mother last spoke to her by phone. Laundrie and his parents refused to meet with detectives handling the case.
Laundrie is now wanted by the FBI on an active arrest warrant issued late Thursday on allegations of unauthorized use of a debit card, and has been the subject of a massive, weeklong manhunt across a Florida reserve.
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At this point, investigators have yet to say how Petito was killed, but believe she died sometime between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30.
Police believe the relationship between Petito and Laundrie became more strained during their tragic road trip, according to a newly unsealed search warrant connected to the case.
If you have information on this case, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).