Gabby Petito’s parents collect her remains from Wyoming funeral home

Petito will be buried in Long Island, New York

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 19 October 2021 20:30
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Gabby Petito was strangled to death, coroner reveals
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As autumn's soft first touches chilled Jackson, Wyoming, Gabby Petito's father, Joseph, finally held his daughter again.

Earlier this month, Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue revealed that Ms Petito died by manual strangulation, and ruled her death a homicide.

He explained that Ms Petito's autopsy took weeks to complete because the attending officials wanted to make sure they got everything right, lest they provide a defence attorney with ammunition in some future murder trial.

As the coroner waited on specialists and took extra care examining the 22-year-old's remains, Ms Petito's family waited and waited, grieved and mourned, hoping that one day soon they might bring their daughter home.

On Saturday, the woman's family was given permission to take their daughter's cremated remains from the Valley Mortuary in Jackson.

Clad in all black, Mr Petito carried a small white box containing his daughter's ashes away from the funeral home. Ms Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt, joined him, clearly pained by the experience.

During an appearance on Dr Phil McGraw's TV show earlier in the month, Ms Schmidt's husband, James, said since learning of their daughter's death, the hardest part of the grieving process was that they could not bring her remains home.

With the wait finally over, Ms Petito's parents now have the chance to take her back to Long Island, New York, for a burial.

Though they finally recovered their daughter's body, they still lacked answers. Who killed her? Where is her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie? Is the FBI any closer to locating him? Why won't his parents talk?

While they await those answers, the family has decided to establish a foundation in their daughter's name, desperate to transform their tragedy into something positive. The Gabby Petito Foundation will collect money and resources to help other families whose loves ones have gone missing.

Their work will be cut out for them. The families of Lauren Cho, Daniel Robinson, Jelani Day, Miya Marcano and the hundreds of Indigenous women who have disappeared are all hurting and deserving of the same support and attention Ms Petito and her family received.

During their trip to Wyoming, Ms Petito's parents visited Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park to take in the sights that drew their daughter out west.

Her mother and stepmother posed for a selfie together at the lake, the water behind them reflecting a shimmering green thanks to the surrounding forest. Rocky mountain pinnacles loomed high over the trees, creating a jagged, broken horizon.

"I now know why you came here," Mr Petito wrote on Twitter. "#GabbyPetito has a beautiful view from now on. Love, and miss you."

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