The family of now confirmed dead Gabby Petito is launching a foundation to help other missing victims after recognizing not all would receive the same media attention as the 22-year-old.
“We’re hoping through our tragedy of losing Gabby, that in the future, some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in a similar situation,” said Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt, according to WFLA. “We’re just hopeful we’re able to help people in the future.”
Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 after going on a field trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. He disappeared after returning to his home in Florida without her.
Her body was found on Sept. 19, and the FBI classified Petito’s death a homicide. Her missing case has attracted a media frenzy, which partially contributed to help officials find vital elements from her case.
Joe Petito, her biological father, suffered from sleepless nights while officials were still searching for his daughter. However, he appreciated the press and the online world, who have contributed to spreading the words that helped the case.
“That was very helpful in bringing our daughter home,” he said.
But as he understands the pain of longing for a loved one’s return, the elder Petito pressed for the same attention and endeavor to be repeated in all missing cases, acknowledging that not everyone would receive the same attention as his daughter.
“I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help. Like I said before, it’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room, to do that,” he said, according to HuffPost.
“If you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame, because it’s not just Gabby that deserves that. So look to yourselves on why that’s not being done,” he added.
The father also reminded social media too that other missing person cases are awaiting the same treatment.
“Social media has been amazing and very influential. And, to be honest, it should continue for other people too,” Petito said. “This same type of heightened awareness should be continued for everyone. Everyone.”
“It’s not just Gabby that deserves that,” he noted.
Although the family did not mention any racial injustice, the massive media coverage on every inch of their case has made some realize not all people will receive the same treatment, particularly those of color.
According to HuffPost, in Wyoming, where Petito’s body was discovered, 700 instances of indigenous women were reported missing.
A January state report unveiled that 21% of missing indigenous people have been missing for 30 days or more, while only 11% of white people have been missing for that long.
The report also noted only 18% of incidents of missing indigenous women in Wyoming during the last decade received any public attention.
While the Petito family had received the worst news about their loving daughter, they knew she left a legacy.
“We can’t let her name be taken in vain,” Mr. Petito said of the foundation their family started. “We need positive stuff.”