Butterfly release vigil held in North Port ahead of Gabby Petito’s funeral

Sarasota County

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA/WBBH) — Another vigil honoring Gabby Petito was held in North Port on Saturday ahead of her funeral services scheduled for Sunday in New York.

“When something like this happens, it affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect one person or a family, because everybody know everybody,” said Arianna Ortiz.

Mourners lit candles and released butterflies to honor the 22-year-old whose body was found Sunday, weeks after she disappeared during a cross-country trip. Petito’s last social media post showed her standing in front of a butterfly mural in Utah.

There are still many unanswered questions about Petito’s death and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie’s potential involvement. Laundrie, the person of interest in her death, was last seen by his family in North Port on Sept. 14 and is nowhere to be found.

“I wish just wish he would do the right thing and tell us what happened and face the facts and bring closure to most of all her family and this community that is mourning her loss,” said Chrystal Ortiz.

Search crews spent another grueling day at the Carlton Reserve on Saturday, analyzing every acre of the territory.

“Oh my gosh, there’s been so much activity. They haven’t found him but there’s been a lot of activity,” said North Port resident Robert Smith.

If Laundrie is at the reserve, residents, like Smith, say they doubt he’s still alive.

“Well you can eat for three days. You wouldn’t make it five days,” Smith said.

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