Gabby Petito was remembered by loved ones in a public memorial service on Sunday. Those close to the 22-year-old gathered at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Holbrook, New York, near her hometown of Long Island.
Many of those in attendance at the event were Petito's friends, family, co-workers, and those who were touched my Petito's tragic story, which has captivated the public's attention in recent weeks.
The public was also invited to attend the memorial, to pay their respects. Mourners turned out to share condolences and to express their sadness over the turn of events. The service was also live-streamed online for those unable to come out in person.
Her father, Joe Petito, spoke during the wake, and encouraged everyone in attendance to feel "inspired" by his daughter, and what she represented.
"I don't want you guys to be sad. Gabby didn't live that way. If you knew Gabby, she was always a pretty happy girl," he shared. "Her nature was always to smile and treat everybody kind. She always made people feel welcome."
"When you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table, because the entire planet knows this woman's name now," he expressed. "She's inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what's best for them first. Put yourself first and do it now while you have the time. I couldn't be more proud as a father."
Ahead of Sunday's service, multiple vigils were held for Petito, and her father announced the creation of the Gabby Petito Foundation, which aims to provide resources for parents searching for missing children.
"No one should have to find their child on their own. We are creating this foundation to give resources and guidance on bringing their children home," he wrote on Twitter. "We are looking to help people in similar situations as Gabby."
Petito's family reported her missing on Sept. 11. after they were unable to contact her. She was last known to be in Grand Teton National Park. Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, had embarked on a cross-country trip, but Laundrie returned to Florida -- where he and Petito had been living -- on Sept. 1 without her.
Police had been looking to speak with Laundrie, who was named as a person of interest in her disappearance. Laundrie's parents told authorties they hadn't seen him in several days and he was declared missing on Sept. 14. There is now a warrant out for his arrest, and the manhunt for Laundrie has been ongoing for nearly two weeks.