Petito was reported missing September 11, 2021, 10 days after her fiance, Brian Laundrie, 23, returned from a road trip without her. The remains of the 22-year-old van life blogger were found Sunday, September 19, 2021, in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Officials are conducting a manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve, a swampy nature preserve in Florida.
An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie Thursday, September 23, 2021, related to Wyoming federal court allegations on the use of “unauthorized devices” following Petito’s death, according to NBC News. Officials told NBC that the arrest warrant is related to allegations he used a debit card he was not permitted to use, and is not directly related to Petito’s death.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Petito’s Family Is Holding a Public Memorial Service for Her Today, Sunday, September 26, 2021, With an Empty Urn
A line had formed outside the Moloney Funeral Home in Holbrook for Gabby Petito’s funeral services, according to the Associated Press. Among the group was a line of firefighters, and a fire truck was positioned on each side of the building, with ladders raised, the article said.
Fox News reported that the FBI has not yet released Petito’s body, and that the family is instead using an empty urn during her funeral services. A coroner ruled she died by homicide, but her official cause of death remains pending a final autopsy.
“Services for our sweet Gabby will be held at Moloney Funeral Home in Holbrook on Sunday September 26th from 12pm-5pm,” Joseph Petito wrote on Twitter. “Thank to all for your suppprt and love.”
Gabby Petito’s family posted a memorial video for the young woman on the Moloney Funeral Home website. It included videos from her life, pictures from her childhood, photos with family and friends, and landmark moments in her short life.
“In loving memory. Gabby Petito: 1999 – 2021,” the video said, next to a picture of the Petito family when she was younger.
The funeral service is being held from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, September 15, 2021, at the Moloney Funeral home in Holbrook, Staten Island, New York, according to her obituary.
“In lieu of flowers, Gabby’s family is asking for donations to the future Gabby Petito Foundation. Donations can be made electronically at http://Johnnymacfoundation.org. Thank you.”
In just over 24 hours, the Facebook post from the Moloney Funeral Home had nearly 300 comments.
“Rest In Peace beautiful girl! Fly high with the angels! Sending love & prayers to Gabby’s family & friends! Praying for you’re strength & healing in the days ahead! Praying for Justice… from Idaho,” one comment said.
“To Gabby’s Mom , Dad and Family and friends. My heart breaks along with yours on the loss of Gabby. I hope and pray justice will be served so she can rest in peace and you all can in time have some closure on this senseless tragedy. I wish I could take away some of the pain you are feeling . God bless you and God bless Gabby,” another person wrote.
2. Nichole Schmidt, Gabby Petito’s Mom, Is a Longtime Volunteer & Board Member for the Johnny Mac Foundation
Schmidt was described as a “longtime volunteer and current Johnny Mac Board Member” on the Johnny Mac Foundation website. Schmidt is listed as a board member and community liaison on the website’s board page.
The Johnny Mac Foundation is a memorial fund set up in the memory of John F. McNamara, an FDNY firefighter who died at age 44 from cancer related to his response at Ground Zero for 500 hours following September 11, 2001, according to the National Fallen Firefighters Association.
“Gabby is the daughter of longtime volunteer and current Johnny Mac Board Member Nichole Schmidt. Any funds donated using the following link will be used for family expenses,” the website says, along with a donation link.
The foundation was formed based on McNamara’s final wishes, which his wife, Jennifer, found after his death, according to the Johnny Mac Foundation’s mission statement.
The Foundation’s mission is to honor the essence of who John was and carry on his inspiring work – not only to see the Community Center project grow to fruition, but to continue the selfless spirit of Johnny Mac by supporting other organizations dear to his heart- groups dedicated to the support of Firefighters and First Responders.
After John died, hidden in his hospital bag, Jennifer found a list of things John wanted her to do if he did not survive. One of those things was to have a community center built in Blue Point, New York where John, Jenn and Jack lived. Jennifer formed the FDNY Firefighter John F. McNamara Foundation, also known as The Johnny Mac Foundation, to fulfill that wish. The Foundation is now tirelessly working to build the community center that John envisioned which will stand as a cornerstone of the community, family, and camaraderie just as John had.
The family said donations will be used for “family expenses” on the donation page. Joseph Petito asked that donations be made to the Gabby Petito Foundation in lieu of flowers.
“In lieu of flowers for the service, please send donations for the Future Gabby Petito Foundation through the Johnny Mac Foundation,” he wrote on Twitter, sharing donation links, along with a photo of his daughter with angel wings and a halo. “We Thank you for all the support.”
3. Gabby Petito’s Parents Started the Gabby Petito Foundation to Help Parents of Missing People Bring Their Children Home
The family of Gabby Petito is in the process of creating the future Gabby Petito Foundation, her father, Joseph Petito, wrote on Twitter.
Joseph Petito shared a link to the Gabby Petito Foundation website Saturday night and wrote on Twitter about the organization.
“The Gabby Petito Foundation. No one should have to find their child on their own. 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,” he wrote.
The family established a website for the future Gabby Petito Foundation, which includes a picture of Petito with angel wings and a halo.
“In response to the overwhelming outreach, we are establishing the Gabby Petito Foundation. Please come back and visit as we develop a mission statement to move forward in Gabby’s memory,” the website says.
4. Joseph Petito Said His Daughter’s Instagram Page Is All He Has Left of Her
Gabby Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, told PEOPLE he mourned when his daughter’s Instagram page was briefly taken down. Although it was quickly restored, he said her account was the only thing he had left of his little girl. At the time of the interview with PEOPLE, Petito’s body had not yet been found.
“I cried for like 10 minutes,” Joseph Petito said after the page was removed. “I’m not naive to how these stories usually end. So, if it does end that way — and that’s a big if — those pictures were all I had left.”
Joseph Petito described his daughter as “so amazing” in his interview with PEOPLE.
“She’s so artistic. She’s an amazing artist. She loves to draw. She has a great eye with decorating … She’s that flower child type of personality. The old soul, you know?” he told PEOPLE.
He added, “If Woodstock was still going on, she’d still be there, man. She’s a hippie from the ’60s, all right? She’s a Beatles fan, round glasses … a free spirit.”
“That is not how you raise a child. You raise your children to stand up and own up to your mistakes,” Joseph Petito said on Dr. Phil. “As a man that is what I do. From father to father he should be doing that too. And I’m sorry, I understand protecting your kid and all that other stuff but in my opinion, you’re a coward.”
5. Schmidt Told Investigators the Last Texts She Received From Her Daughter’s Phone Drew Suspicions
Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, told investigators that the last text she received from her daughter’s phone made her suspicious, especially in hindsight, according to WFLA. Schmidt told authorities that a text on August 27, 2021, was one of the last she received. That was also the day witnesses said they spotted Petito and Laundrie in an argument at The Merry Piglets restaurant.
“Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” the text said, according to a search warrant reviewed by WFLA.
Schmidt said that Stan is Gabby Petito’s grandfather, but that Petito never referred to her grandpa by his first name.
According to The Deseret, Petito’s attorney Richard Stafford, said another text came from Petito’s phone that said “No service from Yosemite.”
Her social media activity ceased on August 25, 2021, two days before her mom received the text referencing “Stan.”