Gabby Petito's Family Has A New Purpose In The Wake Of Her Death

The disappearance of Gabby Petito shocked the world back in September 2021, sparking a nationwide search for the young woman. According to CNN, Petito went on a cross-country trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie. However, her parents became worried after finding out the young man had returned to his parent's home in Florida without their daughter.

Just days after Laundrie was identified as a person of interest, he too went missing, causing a major turn in the case. The search for Petito continued to be the main priority and unfortunately, her remains were found on September 19, 2021 in a Wyoming national park where the couple's van was originally spotted, per CBS News. "Everybody sees the pictures of her out there as an adult, but when I close my eyes and I think of her," her stepfather Jim Schmidt said in a "60 Minutes Australia" interview, "I still remember that little blonde hair, bright blue eyed little girl with her hair up in ponytails, and always smiling no matter what."

Petito's family never got their questions answered about what really happened to their daughter after authorities found Laundrie's skeletal remains in Myakkahatchee Creek environmental park, per The Guardian. As they learn to cope in world she is no longer a part of, the Petito family has since found a way to keep Gabby's name alive.

Gabby Petito's family is helping others find their missing loved ones

Gabby Petito's case gained nationwide media attention, which played a huge role in the speedy discovery of her remains. Her parents now want to ensure everyone can benefit from the same coverage. According to TMZ, the travel vlogger's family is working with politicians to make a national missing persons database easily accessible for everyone and for the expanded use of the government program, NamUs. 

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a resource center for "missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States," according to the official NamUs site. The program is funded by the Department of Justice and it provides technology and investigative resources to help cases finding missing people and unidentified remains cases. However, it's only available in 11 states. That's where Petito's family comes in. 

TMZ reported that the family reached out to several U.S. senators for a call to action in regards to expanding the accessibility to NamUs — a site that could potentially help others find their missing loved ones. According to Daily Mail, the bodies of at least nine missing people were found during the search for Petito and Brian Laundrie, which sparked the families urge to work closely with U.S. leaders about NamUs. Gabby's father Joe Petito said the family was overwhelmed by the wave of positive responses they've received in their efforts to make change so far.