BOHEMIA, N.Y. — Gabby Petito’s family thanked law enforcement Tuesday during their first news conference, and displayed matching tattoos they got to honor the 22-year-old whose disappearance and death has captured attention nationwide.
The Petito and Schmidt families, along with attorney Richard Stafford, spoke from Stafford’s law office in Bohemia on Long Island. James Schmidt is Gabby Petito’s stepfather.
During his opening statement, Stafford thanked the public for giving the families the space to grieve their loss.
“Gabby Petito was a beautiful woman,” Stafford said. “She was the bright light in everyone’s life who knew her.”
He said the families “want to make good of this awful tragedy” and announced the creation of the Gabby Petito Foundation. Schmidt said the foundation will “help other people who may be in a similar situation.”
Watch the news conference in the video player below.
During the conference, the Petito and Schmidt families also expressed gratitude and faith in the law enforcement agencies that are aiding in the investigation.
“I don’t think we can thank everybody enough,” Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said.
In addition to commenting on the case, the families also showed matching tattoos that were designed by Gabby Petitio.
“I wanted to have her with me all the time,” Nichole Schmidt said.
The conference came as the FBI’s search for Brian Laundrie, Petito’s fiancé and a person of interest in the case, continues. The FBI issued a warrant for Laundrie’s arrest last week.
Stafford addressed the silence of Laundrie’s family during the press briefing, saying they are “not going to help us find Brian” before urging Laundrie to turn himself in.
Laundrie was allegedly seen nearly two weeks ago entering the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Florida, but was not reported missing until a few days later. North Port authorities said Monday the FBI is leading a search inside that reserve.
Stafford assured the Petito and Schmidt families are “100 percent happy” with the FBI’s investigation and search for Laundrie.
“We know that they will bring justice for Gabby,” he said.
Gabby Petito grew up on Long Island, where a memorial service was held for her on Sunday.