Funeral services were being held Sunday in New York for Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old blogger whose murder while on a cross-country adventure fueled intense interest across the nation and spurred a manhunt for her missing fiancé and now wanted man.
A line of mourners wrapped around the funeral home and groups of firefighters were seen filing past. A fire truck sat on each side of the building, each with its ladder raised.
Across the street, a chain link fence was adorned with posters featuring Petito’s image and messages, such as: “She touched the world.”
Petito’s father, Joseph, told a crowd gathered at the funeral home Sunday that the day was about remembering his daughter, not relishing in the sadness of her death.
“When you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table because the entire planet knows this woman’s name now. And she’s inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what’s best for them first,” her said, according to NBC New York. “I couldn’t be more proud as a father.”
Her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, offered a similar message: “It’s okay to mourn for Gabby, and it’s okay to feel sorrow and pain. But we want to celebrate her and how she lived her life.”
Schmidt said his stepdaughter was an “example for us all” as she adventured and enjoyed “every moment of this beautiful world,”.
The services were held in Holbrook, New York, near the Bayport-Blue Point community where Petito grew up and became the high school sweetheart of Brian Laundrie before the couple moved to Florida.
Laundrie was last seen 12 days ago when he told his parents he was going hiking in the Carlton Reserve, a sprawling wilderness area and wetland near his home in North Port. Authorities have been searching the reserve area for more than a week and were back this weekend.
TV personality Duane Lee Chapman, “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” joined the search in recent days and promised to nab Laundrie before his 24th birthday on Nov. 18. Chapman was seen Saturday banging on the door to the home Petito and Laundrie shared with Laundrie’s parents.
“The reason I went to Mr. (Christopher) Laundrie is I carry a reputation with me,” he told Fox News Digital moments later. “The reputation is, ‘He gives you a second chance. He’s gonna get you, but he gives you a second chance.’”
Chapman told The New York Post he’s not convinced that Laundrie is in the 25,000-acre reserve. He said he’s already received hundreds of tips on his own hotline indicating Laundrie was on the Appalachian trail, where he had camped for months at a time in the past.
“That’s what he does, he’s a wilderness guy,” Chapman told the Post.
Laundrie, 23, left from Long Island with Petito in July on a months-long journey bound for Oregon. Laundrie returned to Florida alone Sept. 1. Petito’s body was found near a campground in Wyoming a week ago.
Laundrie refused to talk to law enforcement during the search for Petito, and he disappeared before her body was found. An indictment released Thursday by the U.S. District of Wyoming accused Laundrie of unauthorized use of a Capital One debit card and several accounts involving more than $1,000.
The indictment also charges Laundrie with unauthorized access of a device and says he used the bank accounts without permission from about Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.