Family plans to create Gabby Petito Foundation

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On Sunday, Sept. 26, a public memorial was held at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Holbrook for Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old Bayport-Blue Point graduate whose remains were found at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, after massive searches were conducted for the woman.

The Bayport-Blue Point community has been steadfast in expressing solidarity and sympathy with the Schmidt and Petito families, not only through outpouring on social media but visible displays of support, like teal ribbons being tied throughout the two towns on trees and utility poles.

Following the discovery of a body consistent with Petito’s description in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, where a YouTuber spotted Petito’s 2012 Ford Transit van in late August, an autopsy was conducted on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Petito’s remains were found Sunday, Sept. 19 in an undeveloped camping area in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern edge of Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming. Autopsy results confirmed that the remains found on Sept. 19 were those of Petito. The cause of death has been ruled as a homicide.

The FBI tweeted that the Teton County coroner, Dr. Brent Blue, who had to travel 360 miles via car to perform the autopsy, ruled the manner of death as a homicide, but would need final autopsy results to determine the exact manner of death.

The U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie, Petito’s boyfriend, for “use of unauthorized access devices related to Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito.”

In a statement released on social media, special agent in charge Michael Schneider said, “While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide. We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI.” 

Local community members flooded social media with thoughts and prayers for the Petito and Schmidt families after the news broke on Sunday that a body matching her description (5’5’’, 110 pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes) had been found.

Laundrie, from Bayport, a graduate from Bayport-Blue Point High School, has been missing since Sept.14, according to his parents. The North Port Police in Florida have been searching a vast Florida nature reserve near Laundrie’s residence.

Laundrie’s parents told investigators on Friday, Sept. 17, that their son had left their North Port home on Tuesday, Sept. 14 with a backpack to go to the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve near Venice.

“A weekend ground search and aerial search Monday [Sept. 20] of the 25,000-acre preserve has yet to yield any answers, but we must press on,” the North Port Police Department said in a statement on Facebook. The ground search continued later on the following day.

The communication on Sept. 17 was the first direct contact the Laundrie family had made with the officials handling the case, as they had previously only communicated through their attorney, Steve Bertolino, whose practice is based in Islip.

Bertolino was initially going to hold a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m., but the FBI advised him to cancel.

On Monday, Sept. 20, the FBI executed a search warrant of the Laundrie North Port home and removed a number of items. A Ford Mustang convertible, believed to be Laundrie’s, was also towed away from the home.

Due to the overwhelming outreach, the family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the future Gabby Petito Foundation. More information can be found at gabbypetitofoundation.org.

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