Gabby Petito’s Dad Calls For Public To Help Find Missing NY Teens

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Joe Petito, the father of the late Gabby Petito, urged the public to find two missing Long Island teenagers Monday morning.

Vincent Abolafia and Kaileigh Catalano, both 15, possibly snuck into New York City on Thursday afternoon. After a friend took them to the Long Island Rail Road station in Ronkonkoma, the two may have headed 45 miles to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

According to Fox News, a friend told investigators that the two had plans to visit the famous holiday landmark.

Abolafia stepdad James Bonasia told investigators they missed a 3:11 p.m. train to Manhattan and remained at the train station after 5 p.m. However, witnesses spotted the couple later in the city. 

Petito and the authorities are on their fifth day of looking for the teens. Kaileigh’s mom, Ehrin Catalano, told officers the two left their cellphones and vaccine cards behind before leaving town after school last Thursday.

Police Aggressive In Search Of Teens

Ehrin Catalano said news about the teens had helped police work “more aggressively” in their search efforts.

Joe Petito’s Tweet also helped. His daughter, Gabby Petito, went missing over the summer after a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. That man, Brian Laundrie, also went missing. Authorities found the couple in wooded areas, with Petito’s body found in Wyoming and Laundrie discovered in Florida. Coroners said Petito died from strangulation, while Laundrie reportedly died from a self-inflicted gun wound.

Petito started a foundation in honor of his late daughter, intending to help other families find their missing family members. The father tweeted about the two Long Island teens and shared a poster showing their appearance before their disappearances.

Ehrin Catalano told authorities her daughter may have dyed her hair black before she disappeared. Vincent’s stepfather Bonasia said his son recently got a “regular haircut” and could be wearing a JanSport backpack.

New York City Destination

While the parents say the two teens were New York City-bound, traveling in that metropolitan area would be tough without vaccine cards.

The city has mandated that all people age five and up have proof of vaccinations for indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment.

Family members said they might have $1,200 in cash but no known friends in the city. The two started dating in September, and neither teen had ever run away before. Both had some connection to the Big Apple recently. Vincent Abolafia is familiar with the city’s subway system, and Bonasia took the couple to see the tree the previous weekend. 

Kaileigh Catalano also posted a picture of the couple on Facebook before their disappearances. Joe Petito shared information about the teenagers on Twitter. He occasionally shares posts about missing people on his Instagram page.

Petito shared the teens’ missing poster and urged people to contact police with information about them.

According to New York City officials, people reported more than 13,000 people missing last year. While police and families reunite with these people, hundreds are long-term (60 days or more).