Gabby Petito’s Parents Praise New Bill to Help Find Missing Persons

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The family of Gabby Petito on Friday welcomed a new, bipartisan Senate bill that would assist in locating missing persons. The new legislation was announced Thursday by Democratic Connecticut senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Republican senators John Cornyn of Texas, John Hooven of North Dakota, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. It aims to reduce the time taken to report missing persons across the country, Fox News reports.

Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, tweeted about the bill Friday. “We said as parents we are going to help make changes. Here is a huge step forward,” he wrote.

The bill provides funding to the National Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). It also connects NamUs with the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to improve missing person databases. The bill requires law enforcement to notify NamUs of missing persons. It also establishes incentives for states to report missing persons. Finally, it directs the Department of Justice to develop best-practice recommendations regarding the management of missing person investigations.

“Nobody should ever have to wonder about the fate of their missing child or loved one, but tragically, this is a reality for far too many,” Cornyn explained in a statement. “By improving the missing persons reporting process and improving coordination, this legislation ensures that local law enforcement can work swiftly and comprehensively to deliver justice to the families and friends of the missing.”

Gabby Petito’s story captivated the nation

Gabby Petito’s remains were discovered in a remote area of Wyoming in September of 2021. In August 2021, Petito’s family reported her missing after she vanished with her boyfriend, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, on a cross-country trip in a converted van. An autopsy revealed that she died of strangulation as a result of homicide. In October 2021, Laundrie was discovered dead in a nature preserve near his family’s home in Florida. He had confessed to murdering the 22-year-old in a suicide note obtained by Fox News.

Three lawsuits regarding her death are not resolved. One is involving Laundrie’s parents. Another is against a Utah police department. It’s for neglectfully handling a domestic violence call concerning the couple two weeks before the murder. The Gabby Petito Foundation was established in honor of her daughter by her parents and stepparents, Joseph and Tara Petito and Nichole and Jim Schmidt. The foundation works to raise awareness for domestic violence victims and missing persons.

The nation was enthralled for months as the search for Laundrie unfolded following Petito’s vanishing. A makeshift monument in North Port, Florida, where the couple had previously resided before going on a cross-country trip last year, drew people from all around the world. The homemade tributes, poems, crosses made from wood and stone, photographs, flyers, and flowers left near Laundrie’s parents’ house showed how much she was missed. Protesters regularly gathered outside the house demanding they turn in their son. He had snuck out the evening of September 13th and wasn’t seen alive again.