Gabby Petito's father, stepfather speak at funeral
'Just to be clear, Gabby had four parents,' her father, Joseph Petito, said at the beginning of Sunday's funeral services for his daughter. Joseph and her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, spoke at the start of the service, recalling and describing Gabby, saying she had a positive spirit. After, Joseph and Jim hugged each other.
"Just to be clear," Joseph said at one point, "Gabby had four parents. They weren’t step-parents. She had four parents who genuinely loved her as if she were their own, and this man is one of them."
The family is using an empty urn during the funeral service today in Blue Point, New York. The service is being held at the Moloney Funeral Home. The FBI has not released Gabby's body to her family, nor have they provided a timeline as to when they might do so.
"If there is a trip you want to take – do it now while you have the time," Joseph said. "If there is a relationship that might not be the best for you – leave it now."
Live: Gabby Petito's family holds press conference
Tuesday marks two weeks since the last sighting of Brian Laundrie, as reported by his parents, police initially said. Gabby Petito’s family is scheduled to speak out in a press conference. (Note, this is a live event and may be interrupted.)
Laundrie, 23, has not been seen in at least two weeks. His parents – Chris and Roberta Laundrie – told North Port police he went to the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County with only a backpack and disappeared. The search continued even as the Petito family gathered 1,200 miles away in New York to discuss their next steps.
"The Laundries did not help us find Gabby. They sure aren’t going to help us find Brian," attorney Richard Stafford said. "For Brian, we are asking you to turn yourself in."
Gabby's family announced plans to create the Gabby Petito Foundation as a way to take something positive from her case.
"We can’t let her name be taken in vain," said Gabby's father, Joseph. "We need positive stuff. Anything we can do to bring that up and help people."
Stafford said the family was "100%" satisfied with the FBI investigation, while Joseph said social media has also been "very influential" in the investigation.
"To be honest, it should continue for other people too," he offered. "This same type of heightened awareness should be continued for everyone."
Jim Schmidt, Gabby's stepfather, said the family has not yet received Gabby’s remains from the coroner’s office in Wyoming. Schmidt also said he has not yet received any of her possessions from Florida.
"When they are ready to release her, we will be bringing her home," he added.
As the Petito killing mystery went large, it quickly fed back on itself: Her story became the subject of media self-flagellation by the very outlets that were covering it. “In a seven-day period … Petito had been mentioned 398 times on Fox News, 346 times on CNN and 100 times on MSNBC,” the Washington Post‘s Jeremy Barr reported, in a story that questioned the saturation coverage while the Post also steadily added to the drumbeat. The New York Times interspersed its own Petito coverage with some Petito-coverage-shaming, noting that Petito had gotten disproportionate coverage for being young, blond and white. When Black or brown women disappear, the press doesn’t apply itself to the story overtime, both newspapers pointed out — a sentiment reiterated by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on CNN’s Reliable Sources, and by MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
It's true: Whiteness is one key to the missing woman story’s prominence. Gwen Ifill put a name to this nearly two decades ago, dubbing it “missing white woman syndrome.” The pull of stories like Petito’s goes beyond whiteness, though, and it’s much older than the waves of wall-to-wall missing-woman coverage that sweep across cable news every year or two.
The maiden in peril is an American staple — and has been for almost two centuries. In our now-mythic past, the prospect of white pioneer women being hauled off to an unknown netherworld by the continent’s Native people stirred our fear. (The victims, for their part, were expected to resist and die rather than submit.) The formula, then as now, was to portray women as helpless victims forever in need of rescue. And the stories had a habit of going viral long before that term existed.
In 1897, it was a wealthy young Boston woman, Betsy Stevenson, whose unknown whereabouts transfixed the press. Like many stories, hers went national thanks to the news wire services of the day. (She was found a decade later performing in a New York theatrical production.) In 1909, the New York newspapers went wild when a 13-year-old named Adele Boas vanished during a shopping excursion with her mother. (Turns out, she ran away.) In 1910, 25-year-old New York heiress Dorothy Arnold disappeared and set off a nationwide search. The New York Times covered the Arnold story day after day and returned to it periodically over the years when unidentified bodies were found. False sightings — Boston! Philadelphia! Muskogee! — streamed in from wherever a newspaper picked up the mystery. When Arnold’s mother died in 1928, the unsolved disappearance was still newsworthy. “It was the really great search of the age,” United Press reported, “one that did much to develop modern newspaper 'police' coverage.”
(CNN)New details have emerged of a reported domestic dispute between Gabby Petito and her fiance while traveling through Utah in August, as shown on additional bodycam footage from a responding officer.
The footage, obtained by CNN, provides another glimpse into the troubles between Petito and fiancé Brian Laundrie during their cross-country road trip over the summer. A witness to the August 12 altercation described the pair before police arrived as "sort of squabbling over a phone" and striking each other "kind of like two kids fighting."
Authorities continue to investigate the death of Petito, whose remains were discovered in Wyoming in September. The search for Laundrie, who, according to his family, left their home more than two weeks ago and has not been seen since, remains a key focus for investigators as the timeline of events since his return to Florida from out West has become clearer. Laundrie has not been explicitly connected to Petito's death. Still, a federal warrant for his arrest accuses him of illegally using another person's debit card and PIN number on August 30 and September 1.
The incident in Moab, Utah, came about two weeks before Petito last communicated with her family. Laundrie returned to his parents' home in Florida without her on September 1, and her family reported her missing 10 days later. The police interaction began with a call from a witness who told dispatch he wanted to report a domestic dispute involving a couple who drove away in a white van, according to 911 audio provided by the Grand County Sheriff's Office. "We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller said. "Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off."
Police located the van and pulled the couple over after the vehicle exceeded the speed limit, abruptly left its lane and struck a curb, according to a police report from Moab officer Eric Pratt. The officer walked up to the passenger side of the vehicle, where a crying Petito told him, "We've just been fighting this morning. Personal issues," according to the body camera footage. Video shows more of
'He grabbed my face, I guess. He grabbed me like with his nails,' Gabby Petito told police month before disappearance
Newly released police footage shows Gabby Petito told officers about a domestic dispute with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, a month before she disappeared.
The 22-year-old was found dead in Wyoming last month and police searching for Mr Laundrie and want to speak to him as a person of interest in the case.
Ms Petito's death is being treated as a homicide. The couple were on a cross country road trip when she went missing.
Bodycam footage from August shows Ms Petito telling a Utah police officer that Mr Laundie had grabbed her by the face during an argument.
In the exchange the officer tells Ms Petito police have two witnesses that say they say Mr Laundie "punch" her.
She replies: "Well, to be honest, I hit him first [...] I slapped him".
The 22-year-old says Mr Laundie then "grabbed my arm," and when police ask if he slapped her face replies: "He grabbed my face, I guess. He didn't like hit me in the face. He didn't like punch me in the face or anything.
"Well he grabbed me like with his nails and I guess that's why I definitely have a cut right here. I can feel it. It's like a burn."