Gabby Petito was 'a smiley, really sweet girl', says her hometown surf shop owner
A local business owner has described Gabby Petito as the “sweetest girl ever”. The surf shop owner, who has not revealed their identity, told Fox News on Tuesday, September 21: “It's terrible. We've only known her as this smiley, really sweet girl. She's never come into the store without a big smile on her face.”
The remarks from the unidentified person came after Gabby’s body was found inside a national park in Wyoming on Sunday, September 19. She was on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie when she vanished. Her last known location was in Wyoming in late August. Her family reported her missing on September 11 after they did not hear from her for several days.
The 22-year-old woman’s official identification was done on Tuesday, September 21. The Denver office of the FBI said, “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.”
Gabby’s trip with her 23-year-old boyfriend started in July and before leaving Long Island, she reportedly went to the surf shop one last time. The owner recalled, “She's been coming in since she was 12, she used to come in all the time. We hadn't seen her in a little bit. Before she went on the trip, she stopped in to buy her boyfriend a shirt.”
Brian came back to his North Port, Florida home on September 1, but without Gabby. He returned with their 2012 white Ford camper van on which they embarked on the trip. The young man did not tell anyone about Gabby’s whereabouts. He also refused to talk to authorities after the woman’s family reported her missing. However, a day before Brian was named a person of interest in the case, he went missing. He was last seen at his home on the morning of September 14 before apparently leaving for a hike.
Earlier this week, the FBI searched Brian’s home and reportedly took several large boxes in their custody. The investigators have also announced the Laundrie family home as an “active crime scene”.
Meanwhile, other friends and family of Gabby also remembered her as a nice person just like the shop owner. Nichole Schmidt, Petito's mother, told Fox News last week: “She’s so creative and artistic and talented and sweet. She’s a typical 22-year-old who just wants to live life, go on adventures, start a YouTube account and travel and teach other people how to do it.”
Gabby’s best friend Rose Davis, whom she met through Bumble BFF last year, said: “Neither of us had any friends. She had texted me, saying: ‘You seem so cool. I really want to be your friend. Can we be friends?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, I'd be happy to be your friend.’ We just went everywhere together. We'd tell people she was my emotional service human.”
However, Davis did not have kind words for Brian as she described him as a control freak with “jealousy issues”. She added: “Brian took her ID just so she wouldn't be able to come out with me. He's got these jealousy issues and he struggles from what Gabby called these ‘episodes,’ where he would hear things and hear voices and wouldn't sleep. Gabby had to stay at my house a bunch of times because she just needed a breather and didn't want to go home to him.”