A memorial for Gabby Petito will release lighted candles and butterflies to honor the slain 22-year-old. The event takes place Saturday in North Port, Florida.
“I just want the family to know our community loved Gabby, even if we didn’t all know her,” Lisa Correll told The Daily Sun newspaper.
Organizers said the event will take place at North Port City Hall on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The public can attend.
FBI agents found the body of Gabby Petito at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming last week. She and her fiancee, Brian Laundrie, who is a “person of interest” in the case, were traveling to national parks across the country in a converted van. Investigators ruled her death a homicide, but haven’t said how she died.
Butterflies have come to symbolize Gabby Petito thanks to her final Instagram post. She posed for a series of photos in front of a mural of a monarch butterfly in Ogden, Utah.
That mural is now a makeshift memorial for Gabby Petito. People are leaving handwritten notes, flowers, photos of Petito, and other tokens, Fox 13 in Salt Lake City reported.
“I think of Gabby now when I see [the mural],” said Jake McMahon, who started the memorial. “I felt that we could pay some respect and some love to her family — and to her, of course.”
The family of Gabby Petito is holding a private event called “Shine a Light for Gabby” in Long Island, New York, where she grew up. People can take part at home by leaving a lighted candle at the end of their driveway at 7 p.m.
Search for Brian Laundrie Continues at Florida Natural Preserve
Police in Florida said they would return Thursday to Carlton Reserve to search for Brian Laundrie. Laundrie’s family said he left the family house last week to say he was going to go visit the 25,000-acre nature preserve in Sarasota County. No one has seen him since.
Police investigators have spent the past six days wading through flooded trails filled with alligators and snakes hoping to locate the 23-year-old. Searchers called in the Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force to help search for clues underwater on Wednesday.
Local survivor experts say living at the nature preserve would be very hard.
“If he’s down there in the Carlton Reserve, he’s living in hell,” survival expert Mark Burrow told the Herald Tribune.
But while the reserve is full of deadly animals and gnawing insects, the biggest danger is much more basic.
“People have been making a big deal of the alligators and the snakes,” Burrow said. “But it’s dehydration that’s the real danger.”
Police haven’t charged Laundrie in the death of Gabby Petito, but do want him for questioning in the case. Petito last spoke to her family last month. Laundrie returned home on Sept. 1 alone and didn’t help investigators before his disappearance.