NEW YORK (AP) – The family of murdered traveler Gabby Petito on Tuesday pleaded with the public and media to put the same energy into helping find other missing people as they did Petito, a 22-year-old woman who has disappeared on a cross. trip to the countryside with her boyfriend.
Petito’s parents and in-laws spoke to reporters at a press conference in Bohemia, New York – showing off new tattoos based on his designs and his ‘Let it be’ mantra – so that Florida authorities continued to search for her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest in her disappearance and cannot be found.
A lawyer for Petito’s family, Richard Stafford, renewed his calls for Laundrie to surrender and criticized his parents for what he said was a lack of cooperation in the search that led to the recovery of the remains of Petito. Laundries issued a statement on Monday saying they were not helping him escape.
“The laundries didn’t help us find Gabby, they sure won’t help us find Brian,” Stafford said. “For Brian, we ask that you go to the nearest FBI or law enforcement agency.”
Petito’s body was discovered September 18 in a remote area of northwestern Wyoming. A memorial service took place on Sunday in Long Island, where Laundrie and Petito grew up before moving to Florida in recent years. Her family announced the creation of a foundation to support those looking for missing loved ones.
Petito’s case has led to new calls for people to pay more attention to cases involving missing Indigenous women and other people of color, with some commentators calling the intense coverage of his disappearance “white woman syndrome.” disappeared ”.
Joseph Petito thanked media and social media for highlighting his daughter’s disappearance, but said all missing people deserved the same attention.
“I want to ask everyone to help all the people who are missing and need help. It’s up to you, everyone in this room to do it, ”he said, pointing to the journalists and the cameras in front of him. “And if you don’t do this for the other missing people, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby who deserves it.”
The search for Laundrie also spawns a frenzy, with TV personalities like Duane Chapman – known as Dog the Bounty Hunter – and longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh scrambling to find him.
Stafford said Petito’s family welcomed everyone’s help in finding Laundrie and encouraged those with information about her plight to contact the FBI or local police.
Petito was reported missing on September 11 by her parents after she did not answer calls and texts for several days as she and Laundrie visited parks in the West.
Her death was deemed a homicide, meaning she was killed by someone else, but Wyoming authorities have not disclosed how she died pending autopsy results. Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt said authorities in Wyoming were still in possession of his remains.
Petito and Laundrie posted their trip online in a white Ford Transit van converted to a motorhome. They had a physical altercation on August 12 in Moab, Utah, which led to a police arraignment, which ended with the police decision to separate the couple who were arguing for the night. No charges have been laid and no serious injuries have been reported.
The investigators were research for Laundrie, Florida, and searched his parents’ home in North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.
Wyoming federal officials last week accused Laundrie of unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging he used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make withdrawals or unauthorized charges valued at more than $ 1,000 during the period in which Petito disappeared. They did not say who owned the card.
Joseph Petito said the Gabby Petito Foundation is in the formation phase and will seek to fill any gaps that exist in the search for missing persons. He said they would work with organizations that have helped them, like the AWARE Foundation and We Help The Missing.
“We need positive things to come out of the tragedy that has occurred,” said Joseph Petito. “We cannot let his name be taken in vain.”
Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak