Joe Petito, the father Gabby Petito, renewed his calls for domestic violence awareness and justice for his slain daughter in an emotional Twitter post on Monday.
“We have to do better. Changes are coming,” he wrote above a new photo of Gabby. “Now is the time. Don’t be silent.”
The mention of domestic violence echoes speculation that Gabby Petito’s relationship with boyfriend Brian Laundrie had become abusive before her disappearance in September. Police responded to an incident in Moab, Utah in August. The police received a 911 call at the time. Petito claimed Laundrie hit her, though the police report alleges Gabby Petito was the aggressor.
Joe Petito and other members of Gabby’s immediate family, including her mother and stepfather, continue to mount a social media campaign to keep the case in the public eye as investigators search for Brian Laundrie, who fled his Florida home three days after his girlfriend’s disappearance.
A federal court in Wyoming issued a warrant for Laundrie’s arrest late last month for “activities following” Petito’s death — including the “unauthorized” use of a debit card — though authorities have not yet named him a suspect in the case.
Still, Petito’s family continues to leverage social media platforms to aid in the search for Laundrie, believing his arrest will answer questions surrounding their daughter’s death.
“Mama bear is getting angry! Turn yourself in,” wrote Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, in a Tweet apparently aimed at Laundrie last week.
For his part, Joe Petito has remained active on Twitter since his daughter disappeared in September. Following the discovery of her remains at Bridger-Teton National Forest last month, Joe Petito has expressed hope that the intense public interest in his daughter’s death will increase awareness for missing persons and abusive relationships nationwide.
“She is already saving lives,” he wrote in a post last week. “So many stories being sent to us about relationships being left with proper planning for safety, and people are being found due to her influence. We have much more work to do, but it’s a start.”
To that end, the family is organizing the Gabby Petito Foundation to “give resources and guidance” to the families of missing persons. While the foundation is still working to “develop a mission statement,” it is apparently already raising funds. The foundation’s website is soliciting donations from the public via PayPal, and is selling “Justice for Gabby” bracelets. The site also announces a fundraising concert and silent auction, to be held in New York later this month.
Ironically, the foundation – which is meant to channel social media support – was temporarily restricted on Twitter over weekend.
“So our Gabby Petito Foundation page has been restricted, this is most likely due to all the fake pages that have been made already,” wrote Gabby’s mother Nichole Schmidt on Sunday.
The disappearance and death of Gabby Petito remains uniquely intertwined with the social media landscape. Her Instagram account, on which she had been documenting her travels across the western United States with Laundrie, has become central to the narrative surrounding the case. Widespread news coverage of her death has been fueled in part by outpourings of support across social media.
Meanwhile, little news has emerged in the case itself following Laundrie’s disappearance. A hiker who claimed to have seen Laundrie in North Carolina has since retracted his statement, and no other leads are forthcoming.