Gabby Petito's dad gives emotional update on how her family is coping at opening of shelter dedicated to slain vlogger

GABBY Petito's dad has given an emotional update on how his family is coping during a grand opening of a shelter dedicated to the slain vlogger.

Joseph Petito opened up a SafeSpace shelter in Vero Beach, Florida, just five months after his 22-year-old daughter's remains were discovered in Wyoming.

Gabby's body was found on September 19 in Grand Teton National Park, and her cause of death was later revealed to be strangulation.

"It's not what I need. It's what people need," the heartbroken dad said outside the new SafeSpace shelter on Wednesday.

SafeSpace is a nonprofit organization — separate from The Gabby Petito Foundation — that provides safety and support to domestic violence victims and their children.

Joe insisted that the new shelter is what "people need" because "the statistics speak for themselves."

He explained to WPBF News: "1 in 3 women, 1 in 5 men, 10 to 20 million kids a year. When you do the math on that you're talking 100 million people. There are only 350million Americans in the United States.

"So you're talking just under one-third of the nation. … We want everyone to get the same attention that Gabby got."

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He continued: "I think Gabby is going to live on through everyone. …  Her story went so far.

"I think she will live on through so many of us because more and more people are being found.

"More and more people are speaking up on their own violence that is happening to them and to their children. … And that's a great thing but we still got more to do."

Joe revealed his family is doing well as a collective unit and praised "events like today" for motivating them to feel good "even for something so tragic."

He hopes more people will come together for others in need, just like the nation did for Gabby.

Last month, Joe donated $15,000 to SafeSpace with help from the Gabby Petito Foundation.

When the SafeSpace shelter was under construction, Petito told WPTV: "This is amazing. It really is outstanding. I can't believe the work that's gotten done since I was here last."

He continued: "This is a traumatic event that happens to these individuals. And to have so many people, you don't really want that all the time.

"So to have your private space that you can go to and really, just, cry, process, go through the range of emotions that happen. Cause it's a lot.

"At the end of the day, it is a refuge to do good and help people move forward. And that's the goal."

The shelter will provide shelter, food, clothing, financial guidance, therapy, and job placement services for victims.


The case of Gabby made international headlines earlier this year after she vanished in August 2021 while on a cross-country road trip with Brian Laundrie.

The 22-year-old was reported missing on September 11 after Laundrie returned to his parent's North Port, Florida home alone.

After Gabby's body was found in Grand Teton National Park, Laundrie was named a person of interest, and an arrest warrant was issued by the FBI accusing accused the 23-year-old of stealing an unspecified individual's Capital One debit card and running up a $1,000 balance.

As the search for Gabby's body continued, Laundrie went missing after telling his parents said he was going camping at the Carlton Reserve.

On October 21, the FBI announced remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park belonged to Laundrie.

Coroners determined Laundrie died from a gunshot wound to the head, ruling his death a suicide.

Since their son's suicide ruling, Laundrie's parents, Chris and Roberta, were pictured walking in the woods where his remains were found.

Exclusive pictures obtained by The Sun show Chris and Roberta back out in the woods of the Myakkatchee Creek Reservation on November 30, over a month after they found a white bag filled with their fugitive son's items.

Gabby Petito timeline

Gabby Petito, 22, was last seen on August 24, leaving a hotel in Utah. Here is a timeline of Gabby Petito’s disappearance:

  • June 2021 – Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country trip across the US.
  • July 4 – Gabby posts photos of herself barefoot in Gove County, Kansas.
  • July 8 – Gabby posts photos of herself at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
  • July 18 – Gabby and Brian post photos of themselves at Utah's Zion National Park.
  • August 12 – Body camera footage was released in September showing an encounter Brian and Gabby had with police in Utah. Police confirmed that no significant injuries were reported.
  • August 19 – Gabby and Brian post a video on their YouTube channel chronicling their trip.
  • August 24 – Gabby is spotted leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • August 25 – Gabby Facetimes her mom, Nichole Schmidt, for the final time. In a later police report, Schmidt said her conversations with her daughter revealed "more and more tension" between her and Brian.
  • August 25 – Gabby also posts her last Instagram. No location is given.
  • August 27 – Gabby is seen for what's believed to be the final time. Witnesses claim they saw Brian in an explosive argument with staff at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, leaving Gabby in tears.
  • August 27 – Four hours later, travel bloggers driving through Grand Teton National Park drive past the couple's van "abandoned" on a dirt road.
  • September 1 – Brian returns home to Florida without Gabby.
  • September 11 – Gabby's parents report her missing to Suffolk County police.
  • September 14 – Brian's family issues a statement saying he has retained an attorney and will not be cooperating with investigators.
  • September 14 – Brian is allegedly last seen by his family. He reportedly told them he was going hiking in Cartlon Reserve but failed to return.
  • September 15 – Florida's North Port police announce Brian is a person of interest in the case. He is not charged with any crime.
  • September 16 – Utah police release body camera footage of the police encounter with Brian and Gabby.
  • September 17 – Brian's parents say they have not seen their son in a couple of days and report him missing.
  • September 18 – Police announce they were searching Carlton Reserve in Florida for Brian. Police announce they have not found anything.
  • September 19 – Authorities in Wyoming say they found a body in Grand Teton National Park. The FBI announces the body was believed to be Gabby's but a full forensic identification needs to be completed first to confirm.
  • September 20 – Police execute a search warrant on Laundrie's home, seizing his silver Mustang and a hard drive that may contain "evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed."
  • September 21 – Officials announce they will be conducting an autopsy on the remains found in Wyoming to confirm whether or not they belong to Gabby. Police also resumed their search for Laundrie, this time on the Venice side of Carlton Reserve.
  • September 21 – The FBI announced the body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabby's. The cause of death was not yet revealed.
  • September 21 – The Teton County Coroner's office said Gabby's official cause of death was still pending but the initial manner of death is homicide.
  • September 22 – Police continue to scour Carlton Reserve for a trace of Laundrie but yield no leads. A specialist dive team is called in to assist with the hunt.
  • September 23 – Officials announced a federal arrest warrant for Brian was issued.
  • September 26 – Gabby's funeral was held on Long Island, New York.
  • October 12: Gabby's autopsy results were made public. Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed Gabby died by strangulation.
  • October 20: Laundrie's personal items were found at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. A medical examiner was called to the scene.
  • October 21: The FBI confirmed the remains found have been identified as Laundrie's.
  • November 23: Laundrie's autopsy reveals he died from a gunshot wound to the head


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