“Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI,” Richard Benson Stafford said on Tuesday, September 28.
The press conference is the first time Gabby’s family have spoken out since her remains were positively identified on September 21 by the Teton County Coroner, who ruled her death as a homicide. Her father and stepmother, Joe and Tara Petito, and mom and stepfather, Nicole and Jim Schmidt, personally thanked the authorities and social media users for helping raise awareness and for their help in the search for Brian, 23.
Since July, Brian and Gabby, 22, had been traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit, stopping at national parks and documenting their “van life” on social media. However, on September 1, Brian had returned to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida — where he and Gabby lived — without his fiancée. Gabby’s family reported her missing on September 11. Brian was last seen on September 14; his parents reported him missing on September 17. Gabby’s remains were found on September 19 near Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, where she was last seen alive.
When asked about the ongoing effort to locate Brian, Jim said, “Our focus is still on mourning Gabby and honoring Gabby. The FBI is doing everything they can, we have our full faith in them.”
“The parents are 100 percent happy with the FBI,” Richard added. “They’ve been with us at every single step of the way and they know that they will bring justice for Gabby.”
To honor her memory, her parents and stepparents revealed they got tattoos that matched Gabby’s, including the words “Let it be.”
“We’re a big family. We have each other. We’re just going to keep pushing forward and loving every day,” Jim continued. “That’s what Gabby would do.”
“I just hope people are inspired by her,” Gabby’s mother said. “It’s hard to put into words. It’s amazing that she’s touched so many lives and it’s only been in two weeks. I’m so proud of her.”
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