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Gabby Petito's Dad Has a Message for 'Everyone'

'Help all the people that are missing,' Joseph Petito says in announcing new foundation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 29, 2021 11:10 AM CDT
Gabby Petito's Dad Has a Message for 'Everyone'
Nichole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, speaks alongside, from left, Tara Petito, stepmother; Jim Schmidt, stepfather; and Joseph Petito, father, during a news conference Tuesday in Bohemia, NY.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(Newser) – The family of slain traveler Gabby Petito on Tuesday implored the public and news media to put the same energy into helping find other missing people as they did Petito, a 22-year-old woman who vanished on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. Petito's parents and stepparents spoke to reporters at a news conference in New York—showing off fresh tattoos based on her designs and mantra "Let it be"—while announcing they'd started a foundation to support people searching for missing loved ones, reports the AP.

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Petito's case has led to renewed calls for people to pay greater attention to cases involving missing Indigenous women and other people of color, with some commentators describing the intense coverage of her disappearance as "missing white woman syndrome." Joseph Petito thanked the news media and social media for spotlighting his daughter's case, but he said all missing persons deserved the same attention. "I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help. It's on all of you, everyone that's in this room to do that," he said, pointing to reporters and cameras in front of him.

Joseph Petito said the Gabby Petito Foundation is in the formative stages and will seek to fill in any gaps that exist in the work of finding missing people. "We need positive stuff to come from the tragedy that happened," he said. "We can't let her name be taken in vain." Meanwhile, authorities in Florida continue searching for Gabby Petito's boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest in her disappearance and presumably also in her murder. Duane Chapman, known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, and longtime America's Most Wanted host John Walsh are among those working to track him down. (Read more Gabby Petito stories.)

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