Gabby Petito’s family issue heartbreaking message to all parents

In The Disappearance of Gabby Petito, the travel vlogger's family spoke about their lives since her disappearance and death.

The Disappearance of Gabby Petito (ITV)
The Disappearance of Gabby Petito examines the investigation when the travel vlogger went missing in 2021. (ITV)

Gabby Petito's family have shared a heartbreaking message following their experience when the travel vlogger disappeared and was later found killed in 2021.

The social media influencer went missing shortly after she began a fourth-month 'vanlife' journey with fiancé Brian Laundrie on 2 July, 2021. ITVX documentary The Disappearance of Gabby Petito charts the investigation into the 22-year-old American's whereabouts at the time.

Petito's parents and step-mother appear in the three-part docu-series to share their experience at the time of the investigation. And they urged other parents to make sure they document as much as they can with their children because it is all they have left of their daughter now.

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito in The Disappearance of Gabby Petito (ITV)
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito embarked on a cross-country road trip in July 2021, it was meant to last four months. The travel vlogger was reported missing in September that year. (ITV)

In the documentary, the travel vlogger's father Joe Petito and her step-mother Tara spoke candidly about their lives since her disappearance and death. Petito's father explained that he often looks back at old videos of his daughter and advised fellow parents to make sure they take as many as they can.

"I actually go back to her TikTok or the YouTube, videos that people send me where they edit out a certain person just to listen to her and hear her voice," he explained.

"I've got my personal videos and stuff, and listen to them. It's all I've got now, and I will say to all the parents that have children, take as many videos as you can."

Tara concurred with his sentiment, adding to his emotional advice by saying: "Take those pictures, take those selfies with your children because that's what we have. We have our memories but pictures somehow make those memories come back."

NORTH PORT, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Tara Petito (L) and Joe Petito react while the City of North Port Chief of Police Todd Garrison speaks during a news conference for their missing daughter Gabby Petito on September 16, 2021 in North Port, Florida. Gabby Petito went missing while on a cross country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie and has not been seen or heard from since late August. Police said no criminality is suspected at this time but her fiance, Brian Laundrie, has refused to speak with law enforcement. Laundrie has be identified as a person of interest but investigators are solely focused on finding Petito. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
Gabby Petito's father Joe (right) and her step-mother Tara (left, pictured in 2021) appeared in the documentary and urged parents to take as many pictures and videos of their kids as possible. (Getty Images)

Petito and Laundrie began their road trip across the US on 2 July, 2021, and Petito shared insight into their travels via YouTube and Instagram. On 26 August, 2021, she appeared to share her last Instagram post, with her mother Nicole Schmidt growing concerned about her whereabouts when she sent text messages that were out of character and her social media activity stopped altogether.

Petito was reported missing on 11 September. At the time, Laundrie had returned home to Florida alone in the van they had been driving together, and chose not to cooperate with police. On 19 September, Petito's body was found in Bridger–Teton National Forest, Wyoming, she had been strangled to death and had suffered blunt force trauma to her head and neck.

Laundrie, who had gone missing two days before Petito's body was discovered, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on 20 October. Police found a note in which he confessed to killing Petito during their trip.

The Disappearance of Gabby Petito (ITV)
Gabby Petito's body was found in Wyoming on 19 September 2021, and it was later revealed that Brian Laundrie had killed her. (ITV)

The documentary examined the various stages of the investigation into Petito's disappearance, including the huge interest that the case drew online and the lengths that internet sleuths went to in order to try and figure out what happened to her.

Petito's family also helped share insight into the case and their experience at the time, and they shared several emotional, vulnerable moments onscreen. One such conversation saw Petito's mother break down in tears as she recounted the last time she saw her daughter.

"Looking back I remember Gabby was all packed up and ready to go," Schmidt said. "And I remember going into the driveway... it was this hug, a long hug that she gave me, and it was like she was saying goodbye."

The Disappearance of Gabby Petito is out now on ITVX.