America's daughter? Gabby Petito's new moniker leaves Internet outraged

A candlelight vigil for the missing woman saw people who didn't even know her say a prayer for her safe return, but the Internet is angry

                            America's daughter? Gabby Petito's new moniker leaves Internet outraged
Gabby Petito went missing while on a cross country trip with her fiance (Instagram: @gabspetito, Twitter: @danmaticsFOX)

As the investigation for missing Florida woman Gabby Petito continues amid the strange circumstances, the local community remains hopeful for her safe return. In response and to show an outburst of support to the grief-struck family of Petito, North Port locals organized a candlelight vigil in honor of the 22-year-old woman who was last seen and heard from a cross-country van trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. In a heartwarming turnout, the vigil was reportedly attended by not just those who knew Petito, but strangers who wish for her safety also. However, the moniker 'America's daughter' coined for Petito has made social media angry.

Petito was reported missing after Laundrie returned to his North Port home in Florida on September 1, in the same van he and Petito had embarked on their journey in, back in July this year. The last time Petito's mom Nichole Schmidt heard from her was on August 26, where she claimed there was poor network at a national park in Yosemite. Immediately after Laundrie returned, he lawyered up and refused to speak to authorities. He was subsequently labeled a person of interest and is now reported missing as well. A bodycam footage from cops answering to a domestic disturbance call sees Petito mid-breakdown but neither she nor Laundrie pressed charges. All of this has however left the nation shocked and disturbed, with those closer to Petito's home desperately doing all they can to help her safe return. 


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Gabby Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie (Instagram/ @gabspetito, @bizarre_design_)

According to Wink News, Petito's stepfather Jim Schmidt said that despite the sinister circumstances of the case, the family is hopeful of getting her back. "We have each other right now, and we’re keeping each other up. Remaining strong. We have our moments. We’re human. But we’re still focused on what we need to do and that’s to find her, and we’re determined to do that,” Schmidt said.

The vigil organized for Petito saw locals turn up to the North Port City Hall with candles in hand on Saturday, September 18. Organizer Lisa Correll said, “Tonight, we are going to be honoring Gabby." Adding that they need to keep the hope alive, Correll continued: "She’s America’s daughter. She is everybody’s daughter and I have daughters myself and I just couldn’t imagine the grief that the family is going through and not knowing where she is and not having an answer, so it’s very poison (sic). I can’t imagine what they’re going through."

Gabby Petito went was last heard from on August 26 (@gabbypetito/Instagram)

Attendees of the vigil lit a candle and hung green ribbons from a nearby tree to represent the missing person. Correll also passed out blue ribbons for attendees to wear as that was Petito's favorite color. Leading the participants in prayer was Pastor Kip Hasserling, who said: “That we can rely on and Will just come together and spend some time in prayer together remembering the value of life and this family that’s going through some unbelievable times."

Attending the vigil was also Lake Placid's Jean Robert, who even though didn't know Petito or her family, but still showed up. Robert told the outlet that she was there, “Because I care. I don’t have to know her. I’m just praying for her and her family and his family and I just pray that they find her and I pray to God they bring her home alive." Organizer Correll further insisted: “Keep everybody still looking and talking and keeping our community active and our thoughts and prayers for her and her family safe returning green ribbons from a tree to represent the missing.

Tara Petito (2L) and Joe Petito look on while the City of North Port Chief of Police Todd Garrison (not seen) speaks during a news conference for their missing daughter Gabby Petito on September 16, 2021 in North Port, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

But as news of the vigil went viral on social media, people took offense to the 'America's daughter' moniker Petito's well-wishers coined for her, where there are thousands of women of color that go missing in the country every day without an alleged peep from the media or society. "SO WHAT MAKES HER AMERICA’S DAUGHTER AND THESE GIRLS NOT Epidemic of Missing Black Girls Continues to Stump Authorities, Frustrate Parents," asked one user. Another chimed in, "Missing white woman. "America's daughter." 

Others complained of Petito's alleged attack on Laundrie the day police answered the domestic disturbance calls and pulled them over in Utah. Petito had allegedly slapped Laundrie in the middle of a fight and a user commented: "America’s Daughter? I fell sad for what happened to her, but if the cops would have done their job she would have been arrested for domestic assault and battery". Another complained, "I am sorry her family is going through this crisis, but that does not make their daughter "America's daughter" nor does it make her mine."