Gabby Petito's parents say 'hug your family' on first Thanksgiving without daughter

Petito's parents paid tribute to their daughter on the holiday, days after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie's demise was ruled a suicide


                            Gabby Petito's parents say 'hug your family' on first Thanksgiving without daughter
Gabby Petito with her parents Joseph Petito (L) and Nichole Schmidt (R) (Twitter/@josephpetito, @nikischmidt927)
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The grieving parents of vlogger Gabby Petito, who died tragically young, remembered their beloved daughter on Thanksgiving. Their online tributes come just days after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie's demise was ruled a suicide.

Petito, 22, was found in September near the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. An autopsy determined that she died by strangulation and ruled her death a homicide. Laundrie remained missing and became the subject of a nationwide manhunt before his partial skeletal remains were located in a swampy Florida park. Initial autopsy results were inconclusive. His remains were then sent to a forensic anthropologist for further review. It was eventually concluded that the 23-year-old had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

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Devastated mother Schmidt took to Twitter on Thursday, November 25, to pay tribute to her daughter in the spirit of Thanksgiving. "Gabby will forever remind me to be grateful for every moment, every breath, and every memory," she tweeted. "I will cherish what I’ve had, and have in the present, always. Live with love, laughter, and gratitude."


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Gabby's father Joe Petito also offered his thoughts on spending the holiday without his daughter. "Thanksgiving, a day for being thankful, thoughtful, and giving," he tweeted. "Hug your family and friends. Be thankful for the time you get to spend with them all. We miss you #Gabbypetito. You should be with us but now all we have are the pictures."


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Steve Bertolino, the lawyer representing the Laundrie family, revealed on Tuesday how the forensic anthropologist had concluded that he died by a gunshot wound to the head. "Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide," Bertolino said. "Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families."   

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Laundrie returned to his parent's house in Florida on September 1 from a cross-country road trip he was on with Petito, but she wasn't with him when he came home. Despite her absence, Laundrie did not contact the Petito family as they became increasingly worried that she hadn't been seen or heard from. On September 11, Schmidt reported her daughter missing, and Laundrie disappeared from his parents' home two days later after telling them he was going trekking in Florida's Carleton Nature Reserve.

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North Port Police officers stand in the driveway of Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest after his fiancé Gabby Petito went missing on September 20, 2021, in North Port, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Authorities discovered Petito's strangled body in Wyoming on September 19 and said she had been dead for three or four weeks. Investigators began scouring the park for Laundrie, hoping to find him alive to interrogate him over Petito's death. The couple had been on a cross-country road trip on Petito's converted van since July, but things turned awry about a month later. They were reportedly ordered to stay apart for a night by police just a few weeks before she died, after witnesses saw them arguing in the van and alerted the authorities. At the time, however, the police deemed Petito was the aggressor.

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Laundrie's parents Chris and Roberta have been widely criticized for not communicating with Petito's family or turning their son over to the authorities after he returned home from his trip without his girlfriend. Petito's family has also condemned the Laundries for not helping them after their daughter was reported missing.

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