The grieving family of Gabby Petito have unveiled new tattoos honoring their slain daughter, as they called on missing boyfriend Brian Laundrie to turn himself in.
Gabby’s mother and stepfather, Nichole and Jim Schmidt, and father and stepmother, Joe and Tara Petito, were joined by their lawyer on Long Island on Tuesday as they spoke to the media for the first time since the 22-year-old’s body was found in Wyoming.
Family attorney Richard Stafford renewed calls for Laundrie to surrender to authorities and slammed his parents for failing to cooperate in the search that turned up Gabby’s remains.
‘The Laundries did not help us find Gabby. They sure aren’t going to help us find Brian,’ Stafford said during the briefing. ‘For Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement organization.’
Laundrie, 23, who is considered a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance and death, remains at large after being reported missing on September 17. Cash rewards for information leading to his location have now hit $30,000.
In a statement released by their attorney on Monday, the Laundries dismissed claims that they may have helped him flee and said they are ‘concerned’ for their son.
Gabby Petito’s family on Tuesday revealed they got new tattoos in her honor, including one she had on her forearm saying ‘Let it be’
Mom Nichole Schmidt showed off her new ink alongside her husband Jim Schmidt, and revealed the tattoos were based off Gabby’s designs
Schmidt’s tattoo was inspired by her daughter’s own ‘Let it be’ tattoo on her right forearm
Gabby’s body was found on September 19 at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming – marking the end of an eight-day search. Her death has been ruled a homicide.
On Tuesday, the family refused to comment on Laundrie or his potential whereabouts, citing the ongoing FBI investigation.
‘Our focus is still on mourning Gabby and honoring Gabby. The FBI is doing everything they can and we have our full faith in them,’ stepfather Jim Schmidt said.
The parents, each wearing a blue ribbon on their chest in honor of their daughter, also revealed they got new tattoos in Gabby’s memory.
Nichole, Joe, and Jim showed off ‘Let it be’ tattoos on their forearms – inspired by the one Gabby had – while Tara showed off a tattoo saying ‘Believe.’
The parents said they got the tattoos together on Monday night and that each are based on Gabby’s mantra and designs.
‘I wanted to have her with me at all times. I feel this helps that,’ mom Nichole said tearfully as she displayed the new ink.
The press conference marked the bereaved mother’s first public statements since her daughter’s body was found.
The parents took turns speaking and thanking the public for bringing attention to Gabby’s disappearance, while also announcing a new foundation created in her name, aimed at helping families of missing persons.
Gabby’s mother and stepfather, Nichole and Jim Schmidt, and father and stepmother, Joe and Tara Petito, were joined by their attorney Richard Stafford on Long Island as they demanded Laundrie surrender to authorities
The press conference marked the bereaved mother’s first public statements since her daughter’s body was found. Each family member wore a blue ribbon in memory of Gabby
Brian Laundrie, who is considered a person of interest in her Gabby’s disappearance and death, remains at large after being reported missing on September 17
Father Joe Petito thanked the news media and social media for spotlighting his daughter, but said all missing persons deserved the same attention.
‘I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help. It’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room to do that,’ he said, pointing to reporters and cameras in front of him.
‘And if you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby that deserves it.’
The search for Laundrie has also generated a frenzy, with TV personalities like Dog the Bounty Hunter and America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh working to track him down.
Stafford said Gabby’s family welcomed everybody’s help in finding Laundrie and encouraged people with information on his whereabouts to contact the FBI or local police.
‘We need positive stuff to come from the tragedy that happened. We can’t let her name be taken in vain. We need positive stuff,’ Joe Petito added.
‘Anything that we can do to bring that up and help people – that’s what we want to do.’
Stafford described the 22-year-old as a ‘bright light in everyone’s life that knew her’ and said the family now hopes to bring good from the tragedy with the Gabby Petito Foundation.
‘We’ve received letters, emails, cards, from all over the world. From Australia, from Europe; we had people from Italy,’ Stafford said.
‘We had people at the funeral that came from as far away as Texas, as Florida, as California. People from across the country have sent their well wishes.’
Stepfather Jim Schmidt, who had traveled to Wyoming to assist in the search, revealed the family is yet to receive Gabby’s remains from the coroner.
‘We want to make sure that no matter what, we do not impede on their investigation in any way. We wanted her home immediately, but we understand their position and we know that she’s safe with them,’ he said.
‘It was a very tough decision to have to make to come home, but we felt it was important to come home so we can mourn her and celebrate her life and be with our family and friends.
‘When they’re ready to release her, we will be bringing her home.’
Gabby’s family also announced they have a created a new foundation in her name that aims to help families of missing persons
Petito and Laundrie are seen on July 4 in Utah. They had set out two days previously on a road trip, planning to document their journey on social media
Christopher Laundrie, 62, and wife Roberta, 55, were seen leaving their North Port, Florida home during a rare foray into town last week
On Sunday, hundreds of mourners including Gabby’s family and friends as well as many strangers who were personally moved by her story, packed a funeral home on Long Island to grieve the 22-year-old whose life of adventure was tragically cut short.
‘The entire planet knows this woman’s name,’ her father Joe Petito said, standing before a golden urn at the Moloney Holbrook Funeral Home.
The standing-room only chapel was adorned with bouquets of flowers, and photo and video montages of his daughter.
They showed her life growing up in Blue Point, Long Island, including a picture of Gabby as a little girl with her small hand print on a piece of paper. Behind the urn was a more recent photo of her standing at the foot of a cave.
Gabby’s body was found September 19 in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, and her death has been ruled a homicide.
Her fiancé Brian Laundrie, 23, is considered a person of interest in the case but remains at large after he returned from their cross country roadtrip without her on September 1.
A warrant was issued for his arrest on Thursday for his alleged ‘use of unauthorized access device.’ He is accused of using a credit card that is not his to obtain items totaling $1,000 between August 30 and September 1 – after Gabby was last heard from.
A statement released by the Bureau’s Denver desk reads, ‘While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide.’
Joe Petito, (left) spoke at his daughter’s memorial service standing next to Schmidt (right) surrounded by photos of Petito throughout her life
A long line of people was seen outside the Long Island funeral home to pay their respects to Petito, whose story captivated the nation
Three children wearing ‘Rest in Peace Gabby’ t-shirts picturing Petito were seen leaving her memorial service
Steve Bertolino, Laundrie’s attorney, issued a statement Thursday evening after the FBI’s arrest warrant for his fugitive client was made public, emphasizing that the warrant was not for Petito’s death but for related activities that took place after her she died.
‘It is my understanding that the arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise,’ Bertolino told Dailymail.com.
‘The FBI is focusing on locating Brian and when that occurs the specifics of the charges covered under the indictment will be addressed in the proper forum.’
Authorities have been scouring the alligator-infested swampland in the Carlton Nature Reserve near North Port, Florida, Laundrie’s alleged last known location.
People who knew Gabby have partnered with law enforcement to increase the reward for tips about Laundrie’s whereabouts to $30,000.
Jerry Torres, a neighbor of the Petito family, first offered $5,000 for information that could help authorities find Laundrie.
The reward, however, was raised to $10,000 after Steve Moyer, the former deputy chief of police for Sarasota, Florida offered more cash, telling CNN affiliate WZVN on Friday, ‘Money gets people to talk.’
Boohoff Law, a personal injury law firm, also announced last week that it was adding another $20,000 for information, according to a statement published in the Sun North Port.
‘The authorized reward will remain open for two months starting from the receipt of the tip by the investigating law enforcement,’ the statement said.
At Sunday’s visitation, Gabby’s father didn’t discuss the circumstances of her death, but offered advice for people in bad relationships.
‘I want you to take a look at these pictures, and I want you to be inspired by Gabby. If there’s a trip you guys want to take, take it now. Do it now while you have the time.’
‘If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now. Take care of yourself first.’
‘Gabby is the most amazing person I’ve ever met,’ he said, choking back tears. ‘So if you’re going to leave here today, I’m asking you guys to be inspired by the way she treated people, all people …. She genuinely loved people.’
A day before the funeral, Joe Petito announced he is launching the Gabby Petito Foundation to help families and parents of missing children.
‘No one should have to find their child on their own,’ the bereaved father wrote in a social media statement Saturday.
‘We are creating this foundation to give resources and guidance on bringing their children home.
‘We are looking to help people in similar situations as Gabby.’