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Gabby Petito funeral held for the public as Brian Laundrie manhunt continues

The public was invited to mourn Petito as authorities continue to search for her fiancé, named as a person of interest in her death.
/ Source: NBC News

Gabby Petito's family invited the public to a funeral for their daughter Sunday afternoon as the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who investigators have said is a person of interest in her killing, enters its second week

The public was invited to Moloney Funeral Home in Holbrook, New York, from noon to 5 p.m., her father had announced. Mourners who gathered on Long Island included family, friends and Petito's former co-workers, as well as those who have been monitoring her case through recent headlines

Family of Gabby Petito hold a memorial service in Holbrook New York
People wait in line for a viewing for Gabby Petito's memorial service in Holbrook, New York, U.S., September 26, 2021.Jeenah Moon / Reuters

Lexi Ruiz recalled working with Petito at a cafe in nearby Patchogue that Ruiz managed.

"She was always willing to help someone else," Ruiz said. "She was just such a light. ... It's nice to see so many people come together and support her family."

Desiree Keeffe, a friend of Petito's mother, said Petito was a "beautiful soul."

"She gave you love," Keeffe said. "She was just a beautiful soul. She touched everybody like she did now."

Petito, 22, disappeared in August while she was living out of a van as she and Laundrie traveled across the country, documenting their journey on Instagram with the hashtag #VanLife.

Laundrie returned home to North Port, Florida in their van on Sept. 1 without Petito and her family reported her missing 10 days later. Petito’s mother said she last spoke with her daughter on a FaceTime call around Aug. 24 when the couple left Salt Lake City for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Petito also appeared to send a text message saying there was no service in Yosemite National Park, but it is unclear whether she sent the message.

Search Continues For Brian Laundrie, Wanted In Connection With Death Of Gabby Petito
Flowers and photographs adorn a makeshift memorial dedicated for Gabby Petito in North Port, Fla., on Sept. 21, 2021.Octavio Jones / Getty Images

Authorities announced last week that they had identified remains found at a Wyoming campground that were confirmed to be Petito. Officials said the manner of death was homicide, but the official cause of death will be determined when an autopsy is completed.

Laundrie, 23, has been named as a person of interest in the case and has not cooperated with investigators, police said. He disappeared about two weeks ago after his family told investigators he had gone hiking in Carlton Reserve in Florida last week and never returned.

People wear T-shirts with images of Petito as they attend the funeral service of Gabby Petito at Moloney's Funeral Home in Holbrook, N.Y. Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021.
People wear T-shirts with images of Petito as they attend the funeral service of Gabby Petito at Moloney's Funeral Home in Holbrook, N.Y. Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021.Eduardo Munoz Avarez / AP

The FBI searched his family’s Florida home where he and Petito had been living prior to their cross-country trip.

Laundrie has not been charged in Petito’s death but a federal court in Wyoming issued an arrest warrant for him Thursday for allegedly using "one or more unauthorized access devices," namely a debit card and personal identification numbers for two accounts.

Steve Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, said the warrant "is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise."

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