Loved ones remember Gabby Petito at memorial service

Sarasota County

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — Mourners of Gabby Petito are honoring her life in North Port, Florida with balloons, candles, flowers, and signs. Family and loved ones are gathering in New York for her funeral as local and federal investigators continue to search for her fiance, Brian Laundrie.

A growing memorial was set up across from North Port City Hall. Balloons, teddy bears, signs, and candles are laid out in 22-year-old Gabby’s honor. Gabby’s funeral is Sunday in New York from noon to 5:00 p.m.

Moloney Funeral home in New York said they’re taking extra precautions with added police and private security to protect the privacy of gabby’s loved ones.

Meanwhile in North Port just a few miles from the memorial location – the search continues for Gabby’s fiance, 23-year-old Laundrie. North Port police said they’re continuing their search of the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve this weekend.

North Port Police said this weekend’s search is scaled-down but focused. Laundrie reportedly went into the reserve in September. Police said search teams are growing tired and weary, but not giving up.

The terrain and climate are tough, making surviving in these conditions extremely difficult.

“Every week I see rattlesnakes crossing my driveway,” said Kevin Mariller, who has lived near the reserve for seven years. “The alligators and mosquitos are the worst. I don’t know how many nights you can go without mosquito spray but it’s not easy,”

He lives near the Carlton Reserve with his wife, 6-year-old daughter, and 9-year-old son. Mariller said until Brian is found, they will be on edge.

“Just being extra vigilant, making sure my wife and kids are inside…you gotta lock the doors,” he said.

Mariller said they always felt safe in this area and never used to lock their house or car doors, until recently.

“This last week taught us a good lesson,” Mariller said. “You never know what’s going on in this world. We live in crazy times. Since then we started [locking the house and cars up]. We are, we’re nervous. We don’t know how dangerous this guy could be.”

In lieu of flowers, Petito’s father asked that donations be sent to the future Gabby petito foundation. You can leave online condolences on the Moloney Funeral Facebook page. Any funds donated on this link will be used for family expenses. 

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