On Saturday, Sept. 25, residents of North Point, Florida, held a candlelight vigil in memory of Gabby Petito. This vigil came one day after the people of her hometown of Blue Point on Long Island also gathered to remember the late 22-year-old.
If you have been keeping up with this tragic story, you will know that North Point, Florida, is the home of Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of the murdered young woman. Law enforcement, including the FBI, are currently searching for the 23-year-old Laundrie.
According to The New York Post, while the people of North Point gathered on Saturday to remember Petito, some of them also had a message for Laundrie. One of these people was 55-year-old, Phillip Krum. When he spoke, he urged Laundrie to come forward and surrender.
“Brian Laundrie is innocent until guilty but let’s hope he’s man enough to come forward and explain what happened. He can end all this suffering. Step up and be a man Brian, would that really be so hard? If he’s innocent it shouldn’t be difficult at all,” Krum shared. His comments were met with applause from those gathered. They also joined their voices in the chant, “Justice for Gabby.”
Florida Candlelight Vigil for Gabby Petito Also Included Comments from a Domestic Violence Survivor
The relationship between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie is believed by many to have involved domestic violence. During the vigil in North Point on Saturday, people also spoke out on this issue. One of them, who is a domestic violence survivor, shared her story.
“When I was 25, I lived with an abusive boyfriend and almost died. My face was beaten so badly I had six staples in my head and I had to flee to Texas,” 53-year-old Debbie Borza said. “Gabby’s death should be a wake-up call that we need to take domestic violence more seriously. We need to educate boys from a young age that violence of any kind is not OK, but especially violence against women.
“I have daughters aged 30 and 14, and it breaks my heart that a young girl like Gabby had the rest of her life taken away because of someone else’s anger.”
Borza also said she believed a domestic violence shelter should be built in North Point. And, in memory of Gabby Petito, it should be named after her.
Saturday’s vigil included the release of butterflies in memory of Petito. She was described as “America’s daughter.” Attendees also joined in to sing “Amazing Grace.”
The body of Gabby Petito was found one week ago on Sunday, Sept. 19, in Teton County, Wyoming. In the following days, an autopsy ruled that her death was a homicide. She had last been seen alive on Aug. 24. Petito and Laundrie had been traveling out West in a white Ford van and were documenting their journey on YouTube and social media.
Laundrie returned to his Florida home, which he shares with his parents, on Sept. 1. Petito’s parents reported her missing on Sept. 11. Laundrie was last seen on Sept. 14. The search for him continues.