Gabby Petito’s Family Said Other Missing People Deserve The Same Attention And Pledged To Help Those Cases
“We’re just hoping that through our tragedy of losing Gabby that in the future that some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in [a] similar situation," her stepfather said.
Gabby Petito's family announced a foundation in her name that they said will help families of other missing people after the 22-year-old's disappearance and death received worldwide attention and highlighted the disparities between cases of missing white women and those of people of color.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Petito's parents and stepparents thanked members of the media, law enforcement personnel, and people on social media for helping bring attention to her case.
“We’re just hoping that through our tragedy of losing Gabby that in the future that some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in [a] similar situation," her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, said.
Joseph Petito acknowledged the "influential" role that social media played in spreading awareness about his daughter's case, adding that it helped bring her home.
Petito, an aspiring social media star who became known as a #VanLife influencer, went missing last month while on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. After Petito's remains were found in Wyoming, her death was ruled a homicide. An arrest warrant is out for Laundrie, who disappeared after returning to Florida on Sept. 1.
The weeks-long national obsession with Petito's disappearance and killing played out on airwaves and news feeds. It has sparked a conversation about how missing white women receive a disproportionate amount of media coverage.
Much of the national fixation on Petito's case was fueled by true crime enthusiasts on TikTok, who later began to use their platforms to highlight other cases of missing people that have largely been ignored.
Her family acknowledged that disparity on Tuesday.
"Social media was amazing and very influential, but to be honest it should continue for other people, too," her father said. "This same type of awareness should be continued for everyone."
Addressing the media, he said he wanted to ask everyone to help "all the people that are missing."
"If you don't do that for other people who are missing, that's a shame," he said. "It's not just Gabby who deserves that."
In a tweet on Saturday, Joseph said the foundation would "give resources and guidance on bringing [missing] children home."
The family's attorney, Richard Stafford, said on Tuesday that they were still working out the details on whether the foundation would help only missing children's cases or those of missing adults as well.
While the foundation's mission statement is yet to be released, the family thanked the AWARE Foundation for spreading awareness about Petito's disappearance, adding that it had led to law enforcement agencies reinvestigating cases of missing people. They pledged to help other families of missing people navigate similar situations.
Her family also displayed their new tattoos inspired by Petito's artwork.
A large crowd of family members, friends, and well-wishers attended Petito's funeral service on Sunday in Long Island, where she was remembered as a bright, beautiful, kind, and adventurous young woman.
"[Gabby Petito] was the bright light in everyone's life that knew her," Stafford said. "Gabby's family does not want that light to dim, and they want to make some good from the awful tragedy."