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'I hope the world shows up': North Port community rallies for answers for the Petito family

Gabby Petito.png
Posted at 6:49 AM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 08:01:55-04

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Minutes after the FBI announced that a body was found matching the description of missing traveler Gabby Petito, people in North Port began gathering outside of Brian Laundrie's home.

On Sunday, Charles Jones with the FBI's field office in Denver confirmed that the body recovered in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest matched Petito's description, though a full forensic identification is pending. Officials have not yet determined a cause of death.

At first, people said they were at a loss for words, but the community said they refused to leave until they got answers.

“We are all in shock. I hope the community shows up. I hope the world shows up," Caroline Rice, a North Port resident, said.

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Zina Finigan drove nearly two hours down to Southwest Florida to show her support. She said this case just called to her.

“I was devastated. I kept imagining what if that was my child. I can’t imagine what the parents are going through. I come down for support," she said. “I told my daughter I said I need to go down there even if I am just saying a prayer. Anything will help right now.”

Many others, like Douglas Eichmann, said he wants answers. He said justice needs to be served but peacefully.

“I am distraught, but I want calm to prevail. I want justice to prevail. What happened? This is totally bizarre," he said.

Joseph Petito, Gabby's father, said Gabby touched the world.

People in North Port offering their prayers to the family and said they were here for them.

I asked what they would say to the Petito family.

“Just no words. I would probably just hug them. We will be here to help. This whole community will be here to help. The whole world is here to help," Rice said.

The Laundrie family attorney released a statement:

"The news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking. The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family."