Gabby Petito’s father Joseph honoured his 22-year-old slain daughter a year after the YouTuber’s body was found and called for an effort to bring missing people home.
Law enforcement officials had found Petito’s mortal remains on 19 September last year, weeks after the social media influencer went missing during a “dream” cross-country trip from New York to Oregon with her fiance Brian Laundrie.
Her body was later found, with officials saying she was strangled to death in Wyoming national park and declaring Laundrie as the person of interest.
About a month later, authorities found Laundrie’s skeletal human remains inside the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida.
Autopsy results showed he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and a notebook found near the remains contained a note claiming responsibility for Petito’s murder.
Reflecting on his loss, Mr Petito shared a post on Monday and wrote: “I want to thank everyone for the love and support you have shown our families.
“It’s because of all of you we were able to bring [Gabby Petito] home. Today is particularly hard for us but if you can, please take a moment and share a [missing persons] story to help bring them home safe,” he added.
The family had started the Gabby Petito Foundation in October last year. The foundation aims at addressing “the needs of organisations that support locating missing persons and to provide aid to organisations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through education, awareness and prevention strategies”.
The case had grabbed national headlines last year after Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported her missing on 11 September, days after Laundrie returned home to North Port, Florida, in the couple’s white Ford transit van without her.
She was last seen on 24 August when she checked out of a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Laundrie, her partner of two-and-a-half years. The couple had been documenting their travel experiences as “van lifers” since setting out from New York on 2 July via a YouTube channel called Nomadic Statik.
Petito would regularly FaceTime her mother from the road, causing Ms Schmidt to grow concerned when she failed to hear from her daughter for several days.
On 15 September, North Port Police in Florida revealed Laundrie to be a “person of interest” in the case.
Two days earlier, Laundrie himself had gone missing, although his family did not report his absence to the police for several days. He was believed to have headed to the nearby Carlton Reserve with just a backpack, prompting an intense manhunt in the area.
While law enforcement was searching for Laundrie in Florida on 19 September, investigators announced they had located a body believed to be that of Petito in the eastern portion of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The discovery was aided by another travel YouTuber who spotted Ms Petito’s van in a video they had been editing.
On 20 October, Laundrie’s remains were found at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, connected to the Carlton Reserve, close to where his personal belongings were found earlier in the day.