Gabby Petito’s family issues a plea for greater awareness in all missing persons cases

The family of Gabby Petito have implored the public and the media to put the same energy into finding other missing people as they did the slain traveller.

he 22-year-old disappeared on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, and her parents and step-parents spoke to reporters at a news conference in Bohemia, New York.

Authorities in Florida continued to search for her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest in her disappearance and remains unaccounted for.

A lawyer for Ms Petito’s family, Richard Stafford, renewed calls for Mr Laundrie to turn himself in. He also criticised his parents for what he said was a lack of cooperation in the search that turned up Ms Petito’s remains. The Laundries released a statement on Monday saying they were not helping him to flee.

“The Laundries did not help us find Gabby, they sure are not going to help us find Brian,” Mr Stafford said. “For Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency.”

Ms Petito’s body was discovered on September 18 in a remote area in Wyoming. A memorial service was held on Sunday on Long Island, where Mr Laundrie and Ms Petito grew up before moving to Florida in recent years.

Her family announced it was starting a foundation to support people searching for missing loved ones.

Ms Petito’s case has led to calls for people to pay more attention to cases involving missing indigenous women and other people of colour, with some describing the intense coverage of her disappearance as “missing white woman syndrome”.

Joseph Petito thanked the news media and social media for spotlighting his daughter’s disappearance, but said all missing persons deserved the same attention.

“I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help. It’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room to do that,” he said, pointing to reporters and cameras in front of him.

“And if you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby that deserves it.”

The search for Mr Laundrie is also generating a frenzy, with TV personalities such as Duane Chapman – known as Dog the Bounty Hunter – and America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh working to track him down.

Mr Stafford said Ms Petito’s family welcomed any help in finding Mr Laundrie and encouraged people with information on his whereabouts to contact the FBI or police.

Ms Petito’s death has been ruled a homicide, but authorities in Wyoming have not disclosed how she died pending further autopsy results.

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