Friends and family gather to mourn Gabby Petito

Lines of mourners have paid their respects to Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old whose death on a cross-country trip in the US sparked a manhunt for her boyfriend.

mong those who congregated in Holbrook, about 35 miles east of New York City, were family members, friends, co-workers and people who were touched by Miss Petito’s story even though they did not know her.

“She was a beautiful soul, she was full of life, always smiling,” said Desiree Keeffe, a friend of Miss Petito’s mother, Nicole.

“She gave you love. She was just a beautiful soul. She touched everybody like she did now.”


Mourners gather at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Holbrook, New York (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

Two fire lorries were positioned one on either side of the funeral home, each with its ladder extended, and a line of firefighters filed into the building.

Across the street, a chain link fence was adorned with posters featuring Miss Petito’s image and messages such as: “She touched the world.”

Miss Petito was reported missing on September 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while she and Brian Laundrie visited parks in the west of the US.

Her body was discovered last Sunday in a remote area in north-western Wyoming. Mr Laundrie and Miss Petito grew up on Long Island but in recent years moved to Florida.

Inside the funeral home, dozens of floral arrangements and childhood photos of Miss Petito lined the walls, some capturing her travels.

One floral arrangement read: “I don’t know you but your story broke me.”

Mourners were greeted with a placard bearing a poem titled Let It Be that began with the line: “Do not grieve for me for I am free.”


Gabby Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt, left, leaves Moloney’s Funeral Home (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

Miss Petito’s death has been classified as homicide, meaning she was killed by another person, but medical examiners have not disclosed how she died pending further post mortem examination results.

The couple posted online about their trip in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper.

Earlier in their trip they had got into a physical altercation which had led to a police stop for a possible domestic violence case.

Ultimately, police decided to separate the quarrelling couple for the night. But no charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.

Investigators have been looking for Mr Laundrie in Florida, and searched his parents’ home in North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.

On Thursday, officials charged Mr Laundrie with unauthorised use of a debit card, alleging he used a bankcard and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorised withdrawals or charges worth more than 1,000 dollars (£732) during the period in which Miss Petito went missing.

They did not say who the card belonged to.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

I have 26 years of experience as a professional writer and editor and have been working as a full time freelancer since 2011. I am originally from Casablanca, Morocco, and I graduated from Qatar University with a degree in journalism. I have worked for newspapers, magazines, news agencies, websites. I speak fluent Arabic, French, English, Russian and Spanish.

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