HOLBROOK, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — Lines of mourners paid their respects Sunday to Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito during a public memorial service on Long Island.
A line formed outside the funeral home in Holbrook, about 35 miles east of New York City, by noon, and groups of firefighters were seen filing past. A fire truck sat on each side of the building, each with its ladder raised.
Across the street from the funeral home, a chain link fence was adorned with posters featuring Petito’s image and messages such as, “She touched the world.”
The 22-year-old’s father said people could pay their respects between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. ET at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Holbrook, New York. A live stream of the service provided by the funeral home included eulogies from Petito’s father and stepfather.
Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, remembered his beloved daughter as an adventurous spirit who was the light of his life.
“I want you to take a look at these pictures and I want you to be inspired by them … If there’s a trip you want to take, take it. Now. Do it now while you’ve got the time. If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now,” he said. “Gabby is the most amazing person I’ve ever met … I’m asking you guys to be inspired by the way she treated people, all people … She genuinely loved people … When you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table … I couldn’t be more proud, as a father.”Joseph petito, gabby petito’s father
Her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, said Petito helped him realize that you can always make money, but you can’t make up for lost time.
“Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. This is not how this is supposed to work, but it is an unfortunate reality,” he said. “Gabby loved life and lived her life every single day … She is an example for all of us to live by. To enjoy every moment in this beautiful world, as she did. To love and give love to all like she did.”
Schmidt recalled a lyric from the Beatles song, “Let It Be,” which was tattooed on her arm.
“And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree; there will be an answer, let it be,” he said. “It’s OK to mourn for Gabby. It’s OK to feel sorrow and pain, but we want to celebrate her and how she lived her life. We want you to hold onto all those wonderful memories we shared with her because that would be the answer; let it be.”
“It’s not fair,” said Alexis Trama, who went to middle school with Petito. “Her family deserves to lay her to rest the right way.”
People who’d never met Petito but were touched by her story also attended to pay their respects.
“I just felt personally connected to Gabby,” said Arianna Green, who traveled to the memorial from New Jersey. “Her love for everything, life, nature, the little things.”
Petito was born and raised on Long Island. Her family lives in Blue Point.
Petito was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she didn’t respond to calls and texts for several days while she and Brian Laundrie visited parks in the West.
Her body was discovered last Sunday in a remote area in northwestern Wyoming. Laundrie and Petito grew up on Long Island but in recent years moved to Florida.
Petito’s death has been classified as a homicide, meaning she was killed by another person, but medical examiners in Wyoming haven’t disclosed how she died pending further autopsy results.
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The couple posted online about their trip in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper. They got into a physical altercation on Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop for a possible domestic violence case. Ultimately, police there decided to separate the quarreling couple for the night. But no charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.
Investigators have been searching for Laundrie in Florida and searched his parents’ home in North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.
On Thursday, federal officials in Wyoming charged Laundrie with unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging he used a Capital One Bankcard and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 during the period in which Petito went missing. They did not say who the card belonged to.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.