The family of the late Gabby Petito gathered Sunday to honor the life of the 22-year-old woman whose disappearance and subsequent death sparked national headlines.
At a memorial service held Sunday at the Moloney Holbrook Funeral Home in New York, the family passed out a prayer card that stated:
Do not grieve for me, for I am free. I am traveling a path the Lord has taken me. Be not burdened with times of sorrow. I wish for you the sunshine of tomorrow. Perhaps my time seemed too brief. Do not lengthen it with undue grief. Lift up your hearts and share with me the memories that will always be.
Joe Petito, Gabby’s father, delivered a eulogy at the service, telling the hundreds of mourners in attendance not to “be sad” over his daughter’s death.
“I don’t want you guys to be sad,” he said. “Gabby didn’t live that way. That wasn’t her way. … If you knew Gabby, she was always a happy girl. People would gravitate to her, her nature was always to smile and treat everybody kind. She always made people feel welcome. … She always treated people with respect. It didn’t really matter. … She cared.”
Remembering her “ridiculous blue eyes,” Joe Petito said he “couldn’t keep” Gabby Petito in trouble, joking he’d always “fold” as soon as she started to cry.
He also warned those at the service to immediately leave relationships “that might not be the best thing for you,” alluding to his daughter’s relationship with fiancé Brian Laundrie, for whom law enforcement officials are searching.
“I want you to take a look at these pictures, and I want you to be inspired by Gabby,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for; that’s something that I want to see. If there’s a trip you guys want to take, take it. Now. Do it now, while you have the time. If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it. Now.”
Gabby Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt, spoke at the memorial service, too.
A former firefighter, Schmidt said he’s accustomed to attending and taking part in funerals. Even still, he explained, “not one of them could have prepared me for this moment.”
“My grandmother told me — she’s going to be 100 next month — when we buried my mom earlier this year, ‘Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. That’s not how life is supposed to work, but it is an unfortunate reality.’”
“Gabby, at 22 years old, helped teach me that you can always make money, but you can’t make up for lost time,” he continued. “Gabby loved life and lived her life every single day … She is an example for all of us to live life, to enjoy every moment in this beautiful world that she did. Love and give love, like she did.”
Gabby Petito let New York with Laundrie on July 2 for a road trip to Colorado and Utah. The last time Petito was seen alive was in Jackson Hole on Aug. 27. She was reported missing Sept. 11 and human remains matching her description were discovered Sept. 19.
After spending more than a week searching for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve in Florida, law enforcement officials plan to scale back their hunt and proceed in a way that is “targeted based on intelligence,” police told Fox News.
“The FBI is now leading the search,” said North Point Police Department spokesperson Josh Taylor. “I’m told it will be scaled back and targeted based on intelligence. Hopefully, water will lower in areas hard to currently access.”
Rewards of up to $30,000 are being offered for tips leading to finding Laundrie.
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