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Gabby Petito case: North Port community reacts to FBI's recovery of remains

Posted at 12:58 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 14:58:16-04

NORTH PORT, Fla. — On Sunday evening, minutes after receiving the devastating news that the FBI recovered a body in Wyoming that they believe to be Gabby Petito, people in North Port, Florida, began gathering outside of Brian Laundrie's home.

At first, people said they were at a loss for words, but the community said they refused to leave until they got answers.

"We are all in shock. I hope the community shows up. I hope the world shows up," said Caroline Rice, a North Port resident.

Zina Finigan drove nearly two hours down to Southwest Florida to show her support. She said the case "called to her."

"I was devastated. I kept imagining what if that was my child. I can't imagine what the parents are going through. I come down for support," she said. "I told my daughter, I said, 'I need to go down there even if I am just saying a prayer. Anything will help right now.'"

Many others, like Douglas Eichmann, said he wants answers. He said justice needs to be served, but peacefully.

"I am distraught, but I want calm to prevail. I want justice to prevail. What happened? This is totally bizarre," he said.

People in North Port offered their prayers to the family and said they were here for them.

"Just no words," Rice said when asked what she would say to the Petito family. "I would probably just hug them. We will be here to help. This whole community will be here to help. The whole world is here to help."

Joseph Petito, Gabby's father, said Gabby touched the world.

Brian Laundrie's family released a statement Sunday night following the FBI's announcement.

"The news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking. The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family," the Laundrie family attorney said in a statement.

This story was originally published by Lauryn Moss on Scripps station WFTX in Fort Myers, Florida.