Gabby Petito's parents hold first press conference since she was found

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The grieving family of Gabby Petito have called on Brian Laundrie to turn himself in, in their first press conference since the 22-year-old was found dead at a Wyoming national park.  

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 demanded Laundrie surrender to authorities.  

‘The Laundries did not help us find Gabby. They sure aren’t going to help us find Brian,’ family attorney Richard Stafford said on their behalf. 

‘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 murder, remains at large after being reported missing on September 17. 

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On Tuesday, the family refused to comment on Laundrie or his potential whereabouts, on the behest of FBI agents investigating his disappearance.

‘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 chests in honor of their slain daughter, also revealed they got 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 unveiled one saying ‘Believe.’ 

The family said they got their tattoos on Monday night and that each are based on Gabby’s art designs.  

‘I wanted to have her with me at all time. I feel this helps that,’ 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 on September 19 – ending an eight day search. 

The parents took turns speaking briefly to thank the public for bringing attention to Gabby’s disappearance and announcing a new foundation in her name. 

‘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,’ father Joe Petito said. 

‘Anything that we can do to bring that up and help people – that’s what we want to do.’ 

Attorney Richard Stafford: She was the bright light in everyone’s life that knew her. Gabby’s family do not want that light to dim and they want to make some good from this awful tragedy, that’s why they’re starting the Gabby Petito Foundation. 

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.

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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.’

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 demise .

‘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.’

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.’

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‘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.’

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