Gabby Petito’s mother spots vehicle with letters 'GBZ', says she's giving them 'signs'
The Long Island YouTuber, 22, was found dead after she disappeared during a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito's family members spoke publicly for the first time at a news conference in New York on Tuesday, thanking everyone who stepped in to aid the search for the avid traveler as well as describing her continued presence in their lives.
The Long Island YouTuber was found dead after she mysteriously disappeared during a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23, who is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt. Petito's remains were discovered on September 19 inside a national park in Wyoming. On September 21, the Denver office of the FBI released a statement identifying the remains. “Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999. Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results," the statement read.
“We don’t stop remembering Gabby and keeping her name out there and fighting for other people out there like her," Petito's stepfather James Schmidt told reporters when asked what was next for the family. "She’s always with us every day, she’s giving us signs," he added.
Nichole Schmidt, Petito's mother, said they felt her presence the day before the presser. “We actually got behind a car yesterday and there was a Wyoming sticker and the letters were G-B-Z … so it was ‘Gabs,'” she said, breaking into tears. “She’s with us.” Meanwhile, Petito’s stepfather added, “The signs are there, you just have to look for them."
Petito's parents and stepparents paid tribute to the tragic 22-year-old, describing her as a “bright light” who "loved life." All four displayed tattoos they got in her memory the night before, reading "Let It Be," reportedly similar to the one Petito had on her forearm.
The embattled family also noted that the decision to leave Petito's slain body at a Wyoming morgue was "very tough" but vital pending an FBI investigation. “Part of our goal was we wanted to bring her home as quickly as possible,” Petito’s stepfather told reporters. “But it’s important for the FBI, Teton County sheriff, the Teton coroner’s office to hold on to her as long as they need. We want to make sure that, no matter what, we don’t impede their investigation in any way.”
“We know that she’s safe with them, as long as she’s with them,” James Schmidt continued. “It was a very tough decision to have to make to come home, but we felt it was important to come home so we could mourn her and celebrate her life and be with her family and friends. And when they’re ready to release her, we’ll bring her home,” he added.
Gabby Petito’s parents all got same tattoos recently. They were designed by Gabby before her death. pic.twitter.com/KDbS30fsBe— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) September 28, 2021
Father Joseph Petito thanked members of the news media and social media observers who helped bring the case to its logical conclusion. He said he hoped other missing persons would get the same spotlight the Long Island woman did. “I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help. It’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room to do that,” he told the reporters and camera crews attending the presser. “And if you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby that deserves it.”
As family members remembered their beloved daughter, attorney Richard Stafford urged Laundrie to turn himself in to the authorities. “The Laundries did not help us find Gabby, they sure are not going to help us find Brian,” Stafford said. “For Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency.”