NORTH PORT, Fla. - Approximately 200 people gathered outside of North Port City Hall Saturday evening for a memorial service honoring the life of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, who was found dead in Wyoming last Sunday.
"It’s just very heartbreaking. Being a mom myself, I can’t even imagine what her parents are going through. It’s just an experience a parent should never have to go through," said Niki Doe, who attended the service with her family. "We’re a really close-knit family so when things like this happen, it hits home, and actually, I lost one of my nephews just back in November, so I had to watch my sister go through this. So it brings back a lot of sad memories that we just experienced not too long ago."
The memorial service began with a butterfly release, a silent prayer, and then a candlelight vigil where people spoke to the crowd and delivered uplifting messages.
"She needs prayers. Her family needs prayers. I mean, I prayed for her to be found and God answered that prayer, to just bring her home, and it just breaks our heart to know just a beautiful girl was taken too soon," shared Colleen Roy, who attended the service.
Many people chanted, "Justice for Gabby," and hope Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in her case, is located soon.
The family created "The Gabby Petito Foundation," aimed at helping families with guidance and resources to bring lost children home.
Gabby’s funeral will be held in New York and will be open to the public. In lieu of flowers, her family is asking for donations to the future Gabby Petito Foundation aimed at helping families who are still working to bring their missing children home.
The services will be at the Moloney Funeral Home and it is open to the public from 12 to 5 p.m.