A large crowd of mourners held a public funeral service for Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old travel blogger who was killed Sunday afternoon on Long Island, near where Petito grew up in Blue Point, New York.
The service was broadcast live online and showed the full length of a wall in a chapel at Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home, decorated with pictures of Petito. An altar at the front of the chapel was covered with flowers and commemorative candles.
Petito’s parents and relatives were seated in the front row of the chapel, accepting condolences from friends, family and strangers.
A prayer card distributed to mourners contained the title of a poem “Let it be,” a phrase that Petito had tattooed on his arm.
“Do not cry for me because I am free. I am going on a path that the Lord has marked out for me”, we read in the poem. “Do not be overwhelmed by moments of sorrow. I wish you tomorrow’s sun. Maybe my time seemed too short. Do not lengthen it with unwarranted sorrow. Lift up your hearts and share with me the memories that will be. always.”
During the service, Petito’s father, Joseph, and his stepfather, Jim Schmidt, former Blue Point Fire Chief, spoke.
Joseph Petito described his daughter as having “ridiculously blue eyes” and told mourners that “her nature was always to smile and to treat everyone with kindness.”
“I want you to take a look at these photos, and I want you to be inspired by Gabby,” Petito said. “If there’s a trip you want to take, take it now. Take it now while you have time. If there’s a relationship you are in that might not be the best thing for you. , leave it now. “
Jim Schmidt added that throughout his career as a firefighter he had to organize funerals and give eulogies, but added: “none of them prepared me for this moment”.
He pointed to a photo behind him of Petito as a little girl and said: “I always see Gabby like this.”
“Parents are not supposed to bury their children. This is not the way life is supposed to work,” Schmidt said.
He added: “Gabby, at 22, helped me learn that you can still make money but you can’t make up for lost time. Gabby loved life and lived her life every day. is an example for all of us to live, enjoy every moment in this beautiful world as she did. To love and give love to all as she did. “
Petito’s mother spoke the day before the funeral with a heartfelt message to supporters.
Nicole Schmidt posted a message on Facebook late Saturday night after 12 days of silence.
“As I scroll through all the messages, my heart is full of love,” Schmidt wrote. “I wish I could reach out and hug each of you !!! Your support has been so overwhelming and we are so filled with gratitude.”
Schmidt also posted a series of family photos of his daughter as well as pictures of Petito traveling, telling supporters: “Please know that what you all do for us does not go unnoticed, and with you. all on our side we will get # justiceforgabby. “
Petito’s body was discovered a week ago Sunday in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming after his family reported his disappearance on September 11. She disappeared on a trip across the country with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, whom authorities are still looking for. for and named a “person of interest” in his death, which was ruled a homicide.
An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie for his alleged unauthorized use of a debit card to withdraw $ 1,000 during the period in which Petito was reported missing, according to the Associated Press. The FBI did not reveal the card the laundry allegedly used.
Joseph Petito on Saturday announced the creation of the Gabby Petito Foundation, which he says will provide resources and advice to families of missing children.
“No one should have to find their child on their own,” he wrote on Twitter, “we are looking to help people in situations similar to Gabby’s.”
A vigil was held Saturday evening in Florida for Petito.
People who have been touched by her story have gathered in North Port, Florida outside Laundrie’s home to try and get the message across to the family that they want justice in Petito.
Residents of Blue Point honored Petito on Friday night by lining the city streets with thousands of commemorative candles.