‘Now she is a star’: Gabby Petito remembered as Brian Laundrie manhunt continues

Gabby Petito Case

(NewsNation Now) — As the manhunt intensifies for Brian Laundrie, memorials are popping up from Utah to Florida to New York, where Noreen Gibbons is remembering Gabby Petito.

“Gabby was like family, Gabby’s like a granddaughter to me,” Gibbons told NewsNation. “I loved her. She was a bright shining star, you know.

“Now she is a star.”

Petito and Laundrie were planning to wrap up their cross-country road trip at Gibbons’ house in Portland. Now, Gibbons is in New York for Petito’s memorial on Sunday.

It’s now Day Six of the search for Laundrie at the Carlton Reserve in Florida. Friday, police focused on a different part of the 24,000-acre swamp, but have still not announced finding anything of note.

Noreen Gibbons kisses a stuffed animal

Police surrounded Laundrie’s family’s home after they say they got a call about gunshots in the area, but they said they found no evidence of it after a search.

This week, Laundrie was indicted on a bank fraud charge connected to a debit card he used after Petito disappeared. Laundrie was named a person of interest in her disappearance, but has not been directly charged with contributing to her death.

Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said Friday Brian Laundrie left the house on Sept. 14 without his wallet or cellphone. He added the Laundrie parents were concerned their son might hurt himself.

Matthew Young, a former FBI agent, said investigators pay attention to factors like that, and could also be worried Laundrie may harm himself.

“I would say that’s a possibility when you leave and you don’t take anything like that with you, those valuable things everybody uses in their daily life,” Young said on “NewsNation Prime” Friday. “That would suggest he’s he’s in an unstable mental state.”

Gibbons said she’s conflicted on what she hopes will happen next.

“I don’t know if I want (Laundrie) to be dead or if I want him to be alive to face the consequences,” she said. “I loved him. And I love Gabby.”

Petito’s death was ruled a homicide, but prosecutors have yet to say she was murdered, and the Teton County coroner has not revealed the exact cause of death, pending further test results.

But, the legal proceedings don’t mean much for the search teams.

“The warrant doesn’t change anything for us,” North Port Police Commander Joe Fussell said. “We’re working as hard to find him now as we did on Day One. This is wearing on everyone. Everybody has a level of stress. Everybody has the drive and that’s really what’s carrying us through.”

© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation