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The stepfather of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, who flew out to Wyoming to assist in the search for her, has now created a memorial where her body was found.
James Schmidt, who is married to Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmit, put an arrangement of stones together in the shape of a cross at Spread Creek Dispersed Campground in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming radio station KGAB reports. The cross lays on a riverbed near where Petito’s remains were found on Sunday.
“We did go – the small cross with flowers was made by Jim and myself,” Gary Rider, a longtime friend of Petito’s family, told The Independent.
An unknown person or persons made a larger stone cross, which is also in the area, before they arrived.
“That larger cross was not done by anyone connected with the search or recovery of Gabby,” Rider said.
The area where Petito’s remains were found is now filling up with candles, teddy bears and other items left by people touched by her story, KGAB reports.
Autopsy results confirmed on Tuesday that the 22-year-old travel blogger died by homicide. The exact cause of death remains pending final autopsy results.
Rider had organized a GoFundMe page for the family, originally to help them with the costs of finding Petito.
“We still do not have the words that seem appropriate to truly express how grateful we are and how uplifting this support has been during this challenging time,” he wrote on Monday.
He added, ”The worst fears of any parent have been realized with the recovery of Gabby. We are devastated and heartbroken.”
Petito’s family is expected to make a statement after Gabby’s remains are brought home.
Meanwhile, the FBI is still looking for Brian Laundrie, Petito’s boyfriend and person of interest in her disappearance. Laundrie, 23, returned to the home of his parents in Florida in Petito’s van on Sept. 1 without her after the couple were road-tripping around the country; Petito's family, who live in New York, reported her missing 10 days later. Laundrie vanished last Wednesday, according to his parents who reported him missing last Friday.
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