North Port holds memorial for Gabby Petito

Published: September 25, 2021 10:25 PM EDT
Updated: September 25, 2021 11:07 PM EDT

The North Port community has come together to mourn the loss of Gabby Petito.

Petito’s body was found in Wyoming just six days ago after a cross-country trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie.

On Saturday, dozens of people gathered to release butterflies, which were Gabby’s favorite. They also lit candles to honor her at City Hall.

The community wants Petito’s family to know they are with them and that she is in their hearts. Many are devasted by Gabby’s passing and some even hope to attend her funeral on Sunday.

The hearts of those in North Port are full of grief and sorrow. They also feel sympathy for Gabby Pito and her family.

Cherylann Francis lives in Port Charlotte. “She seemed like an angel,” Francis said.

Ken Waite lives in North Port. “It’s very upsetting to see someone who had her whole life ahead of her and to see this really gets me upset,” said Waite.

The loss of Petito was especially difficult for Waite and his family. He is originally from Holbrook, New York which is just ten minutes away from where Gabby’s hometown of Blue  Point.

“You would never think it’s happening in your own hometown,” Waite said.

North Port came together on Saturday night to honor Gabby as they held a memorial for her in front of City Hall. They prayed, lit candles and released butterflies into the sky.

Lisa Correll organized a vigil for Gabby last weekend. “Butterflies are gorgeous and beautiful and coloristic, just as she was,” Correll said.

Before the butterflies flew off, some of them stopped, almost as if to pay their own respects. Some stopped at the memorial, one landing on a picture of Gabby in front of a wall where she had wings of her own.

To the community, it signals the Gabby will never be forgotten.

“We feel it in our hearts that everyone came out for Gabby,” Francis said.

“If it ever happened to us, we would want the community to do the same thing for us,” said Lauren Waite.

“She was a resident of our community and we want to send our condolences out to America,” said Correll.

During the memorial, people yelled “We love you Gabby,” “go to God, girl” and “Justice for Gabby.”