NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA/NewsNation Now) — Fatigue from the weekslong investigation into the death of Gabby Petito is being felt, but a recent visit from her family to Florida could rejuvenate search efforts.
On Sunday, Gabby’s mom Nichole Schmidt tweeted out a photo of a heart-shaped cloud in the sky with the caption “Goodbye Florida … thanks for showing so much LOVE.” #justiceforgabby #justiceforgabbypetito #americasdaughter
While in Florida, the family visited a makeshift memorial for Gabby at North Port City Hall. They were able to take some of the items at the memorial, which city officials will be taking down Tuesday.
“We’d like to thank the people of North Port and the people of Florida for their love and support. We were in awe at the memorial and it was emotional for us being there. We thank you all for growing the memorial for Gabby and allowing us the privacy our family needed during that day,” the Petito family told WFLA.
City officials say they’re working on a permanent memorial after some of the items left at the makeshift space were damaged by the Florida sun and rain.
A permanent installation is in the works, according to city officials.
“I think Gabby deserves it. I mean, look what she went through and we still don’t have any answers,” said Sandra Vaughn who visited the memorial Monday.
“Obviously she was important to a lot of people and she kind of stands for something now. It is kind of just bigger than one person,” said John St. Ledger of Minnesota. “I think a permanent memorial from the city or from the community would be more than appropriate,” he continued.
Meanwhile, the search for Brian Laundire continues, with police saying they wouldn’t be surprised if he was dead or alive at this point in the search. Laundrie has been missing for more than three weeks.
A spokesperson from North Port Police addressed questions this week about how Laundrie was able to get away, saying they had surveillance on him to the extent that it was legal to do so but he was still able to slip through the cracks.
Police have been searching the Carlton Reserve since Laundrie was reported missing after his family said they last saw him wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap heading into the reserve. Authorities say conditions have improved there so they can reach some areas that were previously inaccessible.
Laundrie was declared a person of interest in Gabby Petito’s death after he refused to talk with authorities and his subsequent disappearance. Petito’s body was found at a camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming in September, days after a nationwide search was launched.