(NEXSTAR) – The family of slain 22-year-old Gabby Petito spoke publicly for the first time at a news conference Tuesday in New York, thanking everyone who helped search for the YouTuber and describing her ongoing presence in their lives.
Petito was found dead after vanishing during a cross-country trip with boyfriend Brian Laundrie, who is now missing and is a person of interest in the case.
When asked what was next for the family, Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt said, “We don’t stop remembering Gabby and keeping her name out there and fighting for other people out there like her. She’s always with us every day, she’s giving us signs.”
Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said they felt her with them the day before the news conference.
“We actually got behind a car yesterday and there was a Wyoming sticker and the letters were G-B-Z … so it was ‘Gabs,'” Nichole Schmidt said tearfully. “She’s with us.”
“The signs are there, you just have to look for them,” Petito’s stepfather added.
Petito’s parents and stepparents spoke at length about the late 22-year-old, calling her a “bright light” and someone who “loved life.” The four also displayed tattoos they got the night before that read “Let It Be,” and are similar to the one Petito had on her forearm.
Father Joseph Petito thanked the news media and social media users who brought attention to the case and added that he hopes others get the same spotlight.
“I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help. It’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room to do that,” he said, gesturing to the reporters and camera crews. “And if you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby that deserves it.”
The family members largely focused on Gabby Tuesday, with attorney Richard Stafford occasionally urging Laundrie to turn himself in.
“The Laundries did not help us find Gabby, they sure are not going to help us find Brian,” Stafford said. “For Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency.”
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