Gabby Petito‘s family will have her memory carried with them for the rest of their lives every time they look down at their arms. Her father and stepmother, Joe and Tara Petito, and mom and stepfather, Nicole and Jim Schmidt, got their late daughter’s exact tattoos inked on their forearms in her memory.
The family showed off the words “Let it Be” with a cresting wave next to it on their right forearms at a September 28 press conference. “I wanted to have her with me all the time,” her mother said about the tattoos. Petito’s family also got one on their left arms, a triangle with flowers in it.
Petito’s mom continued, “I hope people are inspired by her. She’s touched so many lives already. We’re so proud of her. We’re going to keep the light going and help a lot of people if we can.”
Petito’s body was discovered near a dispersed campground outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 19. Authorities are still searching for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who has been missing for the past two weeks after being named a “person of interest” in the case.
“We don’t stop remembering Gabby and keeping her name out there and fighting for other people out there like her,” Petito’s stepfather replied when asked what is next with the ongoing case.
“She is always with us every day, she is giving us signs. It’s difficult, you know, we have been talking — where do you go from here, how do you go back to normal? Whatever normal may be from here on out,” Schmidt explained.
“But we have each other, we are a big family, we have a huge support network,” he continued. “And we are just going to keep pushing forward and living every day and loving every day because that is what Gabby did and that is what we need to do.”
Petito and Laundrie left her home in Long Island, New York, in early July to embark on a four-month, cross-country road trip in their white Ford Transit van. On August 12, a bystander called 911 when she allegedly saw Laundrie slapping Petito outside of a food co-op in Moab, Utah. Police eventually pulled the van over near the entrance to Arches National Park.
Vest-cam photos from the officers showed a distraught Petito, but the couple was allowed to go on their way after being questioned about the incident in town.
The pair made their way north and stayed at the Spread Creek dispersed campground outside of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming between August 27 and 30. Petito’s mother said her daughter last made contact via text on the 30th, but it seemed unusual and confusing. It read, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” Stan is Petito’s grandfather, but she never called him by that name.
Laundrie headed back to Florida alone on September 1. He didn’t report Petito missing until 10 days later, on September 11, once he’d arrived at his parents’ home in North Port, Florida. Laundrie vanished on September 14, when police named him a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance. An arrest warrant was issued for him on September 23. A nationwide manhunt has been underway, including agents from the FBI and Dog the Bounty Hunter trying to track down Laundrie’s whereabouts.
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