The father of missing van-life girl Gabby Petito paid tribute to his daughter hours after the discovery of her possible remains in Wyoming on Sunday.
Joseph Petito took to Twitter on Sunday to post a picture of his daughter, who had disappeared following a cross-country trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie.
‘She touched the world,’ the post said with a picture of Petito’s daughter between a pair of angel wings.
The remains of a body matching his daughter’s description were found at the Spread Creek campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern edge of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sunday afternoon, federal agents said.
‘As every parent can imagine this is an incredibly difficult time for the family, and friends, our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask that you all respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter,’ said Charles Jones, supervisory senior resident agent for FBI Denver .
Joseph Petito, father of missing van-girl Gabby Petito, posted a picture of his daughter on social media with the caption ‘She touched the world’
Joseph Petito, who pleaded for help to find his daughter after she disappeared on a van trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, mourned the death of his daughter Sunday
The FBI said the body found in the national park is ‘consistent with a description’ of Petito, but said a full forensic identification has yet to be completed. A cause of death will be determined at the autopsy on Tuesday.
‘Full forensics identification has not been completed to confirm 100 percent that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery,’ Jones added.
Petito was reported missing on September 11 after being last seen on August 24. Her fiancé Brian Laundrie returned home to Florida on September 1 without her, and refused to cooperate with authorities and was reported missing himself on Friday.
‘Your tireless work and determination helped bring Gabby home to her parents. The family and I will be forever grateful,’ Richard Benson an attorney for Petito and Schmidt said in a statement.
Laundrie remains on the loose after vanishing from his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, last week.
Joseph Petito did not hear from his daughter since she disappeared in August
The possible remains of Petito’s body was found at found at the Spread Creek campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern edge of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sunday
Petito was traveling with her fiancé Brian Laundrie (right) in a white van from their Florida home
U.S. Park Rangers block access in front of the Spread Creek area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest
Teton County Search & Rescue seen leaving the Spread Creek area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest
Laundrie’s family offered their condolences after the discovery of her body.
‘The news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking. The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family,’ lawyer Steven Bertolino said Sunday in a statement issued on the family’s behalf.
The Laundries have remained ‘in the background’ throughout most of the investigation, under the advice of their attorney.
On Sunday morning, Petito’s parents shared a video on their ‘Find Gabby’ Facebook page from YouTuber ‘Red, White & Bethune’ that caught a Ford Transit Van with Florida plates that the posters believe to be the vehicle that Petito and Laundrie had used to travel the country.
The video was taken on August 27 at around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground.
‘We have this video, so does the FBI,’ wrote the family on the Sunday morning post. ‘We believe this is the van for multiple reasons.’
‘It’s a very important piece of information as it pretty much starts the timeline,’ Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, told MailOnline. ‘This new video of the actual van being seen on the 27th appears legit. That was the last location the van might have been seen. It’s a huge piece of the puzzle.’
‘It’s essential and there might be more videos out there that people haven’t even realized they have yet,’ she added. ‘If people were recording videos or just taking pictures, they need to start looking through their stuff.’
Petito’s parents shared a video on their ‘Find Gabby’ Facebook page early Sunday morning from YouTuber Red, White & Bethune’, that caught a Ford Transit Connect Van with Florida plates that the posters believe to be the vehicle that Petito and Laundrie had used to travel the country. The video was taken on August 27 at around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground, where police were searching for the missing girl, and where the remains were found Sunday
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, (pictured at a press conference) has slammed Laundrie saying ‘he’s not missing, he’s hiding’ after Laundrie, who is a person of interest in her daughter’s disappearance, vanished
Jenn Bethune, who runs the ‘Red, White & Bethune’ channel, told MailOnline she discovered the video on Sunday, Sept. 19 around 12am and submitted the footage to the FBI ten minutes after finding it.
She also said that she was amazed by Schmidt’s resilience in the face of the tragedy.
‘Even though it’s not the best outcome, I’m happy that Gabby is home,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘Nicole is absolutely amazing. Her strength is so apparent.’
Gabby’s mother told MailOnline that she is ‘not entertaining’ a TikTok video that’s been widely circulated in which a young woman describes picking up a man she believed to be Brian on the 29th.
‘The timeline seems way off. Maybe she thought it was him, but I just know the timeline is off. The van left there the night of the 27th or early on the 28th. The van was in Florida on the first. It’s not possible for it to have been there on the 29th.’
Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker said she and her boyfriend were at Grand Teton National Park in Colter Bay, Wyoming, on August 29 when Laundrie approached the couple and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm.
‘He approached us asking for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson and we were going to Jackson that night. So I said, ya know, ‘hop in’ and he hopped in the back of my Jeep,’ Baker explained. ‘So that was kind of weird.’
She noted Laundrie, 23, was wearing ‘a backpack, a long sleeve, pants and hiking boots’ and said that before he got in the car he offered to pay the couple $200 to give him a 10-mile ride.
On August 25th or 26th, the couple chatted with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes, East Idaho News reported on Friday.
‘They told me they were traveling from Florida. They had just been to Teton Park and they said they were interested in going to Yellowstone and I told them they could go to the west entrance,’ the owner, who was not identified, told the outlet.
‘They seemed happy and when they left, she hollered back from the door that they were engaged and then I said congratulations.’
The shop owner said that she contacted the FBI after seeing reports of Petito’s disappearance on the news.
Cops arrive Friday and enter the home after Laundrie’s parents informed investigators their son had vanished
Laundrie last told his parents that he was headed to his frequent hiking spot at Myakkahatchee Creek Environment Park on September 14, which is tied to the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve.
Family lawyer Steven Bertolino said the family went out to the reserve on Wednesday to look for him and found a note from the North Port Police Department on Brian’s mustang saying that it needed to be moved.
The family left the car overnight ‘so he could drive back,’ Bertolino said, but when he didn’t come home Thursday, they retrieved the car, which was seen in the driveway on Friday.
On Sunday, a team of 50 police officers from six different agencies ‘used to dealing with [the] elements’ of sprawling, alligator-infested Carlton Reserve, will search for Laundrie. The swathe of officers are using bloodhounds, drones and 4×4 vehicles in their search, said North Port Police information chief Josh Taylor.
Taylor told the New York Post that an experienced outdoorsman could hide out in the area for ‘months.’
They did not find anything Saturday, although police said they took some of Laundrie’s clothing from his parents’ home to provide a scent for search dogs.
A cellphone photo taken by Zachary Randazzo, 18, Friday looks a ‘heck’ of a lot like missing Gabby Petito’s fiance Brian Laundrie, according to police. It showed a bald, clean-shaven man walking down the sidewalk in flip-flops with headphones in
‘We have had drones in the air, we have got bloodhounds, K9s, four by four vehicles. It’s very wet, it’s muddy. There are a few unpaved dirt roads. It’s a place that people hike. There are mountain bike trails out here. The Myakkahatchee Creek runs down into the city.’
Asked if he believed there were concerns for Laundrie’s safety, Taylor said: ‘Sure, I think that’s fair to say. There is an enormous amount of pressure I’m sure on him to provide answers on what’s going on here.’
He could not confirm if Laundrie owns a gun.
On Saturday, as police combed the two locations, protestors amassed outside Laundrie’s family home in North Port, chanting ‘where is Gabby?’ throughout the day.
Just two blocks away, an 18-year-old driving to the protest with his grandmother photographed a man who looked a ‘heck’ of a lot like Laundrie about two blocks from the home, just an hour and a half before the Laundries’ family attorney reported the 23-year-old missing and investigators from the North Port Police Department showed up at the family’s home, according to the New York Post.
Zachary Randazzo explained that when he and his grandmother turned down the street they ‘were shocked (because) what looked like his clone was walking down the street’.
‘We then watched him as he turned down the next street over and we drove past him again to get a second look,’ he added.
Randazzo then drove around the street a third time, and took the photo. ‘After taking it and pulling up a picture of him online and looking at them side-by-side we were thinking, ”Wow this looks just like him, how can it not be him?”
A search party of about 50 officers had gathered Saturday to search the Carlton Reserves for Laundrie
Officers combed the forest as the search for Laundrie began on Saturday, September 18
Despite the search for Laundrie, Petito’s father said his main priority was always finding his daughter.
‘That can’t be my primary focus if he’s going to sit in the comfort of his home, you know, and get home cooked meals, why my daughter’s out, you know, God knows where, you know, I don’t give two craps about him,’ he told Fox News & Friends First.
‘I got to be out there to help her, because the one person who is supposed to be leading the charge is sitting home in his lazy boy chair, you know, not talking to anybody.’
‘I want to worry about getting my daughter home first and then we’ll start worrying about Brian.’
Timeline of missing Gabby Petito’s case
- July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
- August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
- Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
- Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
- Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes
- Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune, of Red White & Bethune, around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground
- Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm; Schmidt says she is not entertaining this claim and believes it possibly factual
- Aug. 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito: ‘No service in Yosemite’
- Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
- Sept. 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day
- Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito
- Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Also on this day, Laundrie allegedly left his parents’ home for a hike
- Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case
- Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
- Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie
- Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon