Gabby Petito’s parents publicly thanked everyone who helped move their daughter’s case forward on Tuesday, but her father also pleaded with the press and social media users to treat similar cases the same, bringing up the conversation. national report on why missing people of color do not receive the same level of attention.
Speaking at a press conference alongside the 22-year-old influencer mother, mother-in-law and father-in-law, Joe Petito thanked reporters and internet sleuths who helped raise the case of his daughter and urged them to make the same commitment to other missing persons and homicide cases.
“I don’t want to dismiss the ridiculously hard work the FBI and law enforcement has done, but social media has been amazing and very influential. And to be honest, this should continue for others too. This same type of awareness must continue for everyone everyone. And that goes for all of you too, ”he said, pointing to reporters in the room.
Gabby Petito’s body was found in Wyoming last week after a massive search, and her death was deemed a homicide. At the time of her disappearance, she was on a road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest in her case but disappeared in the middle of her search.
Amid the media frenzy over his disappearance, people have come forward on social media about recent encounters with Laundrie and sightings of the couple’s campervan near where police finally found the body by Petito.
Joe Petito doubled down on his plea later during the press conference, saying members of the press should ask themselves why they would cover his daughter’s case so carefully but neglect others.
“I want to ask everyone to help all the people who are missing and need help,” he said. “Like I said before, it’s up to all of you, everyone in this room, to do it. If you don’t do this for other missing people, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby who deserves this. So see for yourself why this is not done.
Joe Petito didn’t mention race, but many others making similar pleas have. Young, missing white women like Gabby Petito often receive extraordinary media coverage, public interest and law enforcement resources, while similar cases involving people of color go unnoticed and take longer to resolve, critics noted. continuation of the Petito affair. .
Between 2011 and 2020, more than 700 Indigenous women went missing in Wyoming, where Petito was found. According to a January report released by the state, 21% of missing Indigenous people go missing for 30 days or more, while only 11% of whites are missing for that long. The report also noted that only 18% of cases of missing Indigenous women in Wyoming over the past decade have received media coverage.
Petito’s family announced on Tuesday that they are launching the Gabby Petito Foundation to help locate more missing people.
“We need positive things to come out of the tragedy that has happened,” his father said. “We cannot let his name be taken in vain.”
In an emotional moment, Petito’s parents and in-laws revealed that they all have tattoos that match the ones she has, some of which she has drawn herself.
“I wanted to have him with me all the time. I feel it. It helps that, ”her mother, Nicole Schmidt, said of the dedications.
Petito family attorney Richard Stafford declined to answer most questions about the investigation into his death, but said they all trusted the FBI process. He said he did not expect any help from Laundrie’s family.
“The laundries didn’t help us find Gabby,” Stafford said. “They are certainly not going to help us find Brian”, who is not a suspect in the case but has been charged with unauthorized use of a debit card to withdraw more than $ 1,000 during the period during which Petito disappeared.
“For Brian, we ask you to surrender,” Stafford said.
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