Treat all missing cases equally, urges father of woman killed on road trip

US

The family of a missing woman found dead in a US national park have urged the media and public to give the same attention to other disappearance cases.

Gabby Petito was found dead in Wyoming on 18 September a week after her parents reported her missing – and the case made headlines across the country.

There is now a huge effort to track down the prime suspect in her death, her boyfriend Brian Laundrie.

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Petito’s father Joseph said all missing person cases deserved attention.

Joseph Petito told reporters all missing people should get the same attention as his daughter. Pic: AP
Image:
Joseph Petito told reporters all missing people cases should get attention. Pic: AP

“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 at reporters and cameras.

“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.”

Some commentators have described the 22-year-old’s case as an example of “missing white woman syndrome” – and there have been renewed calls for disappearances of indigenous women and people of colour to get more attention.

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Police bodycam of Gabby Petito

The family also said they were starting a foundation to help other people searching for loved ones.

“We need positive stuff to come from the tragedy that happened,” Joseph Petito said. “We can’t let her name be taken in vain.”

A lawyer for Ms Petito’s father also used the news conference to repeat calls for Laundrie, 23, to turn himself in.

TV personalities including Duane Chapman – known as Dog the Bounty Hunter – and America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh have started their own searches.

Police footage shows Brian Laundrie talking to an officer after the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito was pulled over near Moab, Utah. Pic: AP
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Police footage shows Brian Laundrie talking to an officer after they were stopped in Utah. Pic: AP

There is also a major search in Florida where the couple lived.

Last week, Laundrie was charged with unauthorised use of a debit card, with officials alleging he used it to make withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 (£738) during the time Ms Petito was missing.

It’s not been revealed whose card it was.

The couple were visiting national parks in the western US in a Ford transit van and documenting the trip on social media.

Gabrielle 'Gabby' Petito's white transit van has been seized by police. Pic: North Port Police
Image:
Ms Petito’s white transit van was seized by police. Pic: North Port Police

Police body-cam showed them being pulled over in Utah in August after they got in an altercation, with the officer separating the couple for the night.

Ms Petito’s body was eventually found in an undeveloped camping area surrounded by woodlands and brush, about 30 miles (48km) northeast of Jackson, Wyoming.

Her death has been ruled a homicide but the cause has not been disclosed pending further results from a post-mortem.

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