BOHEMIA, N.Y. - Gabby Petito’s parents and stepparents said they all got matching tattoos on their right forearms Monday that were once drawn by the slain 22-year-old, whose disappearance and unsolved homicide captured the attention of the country.
"These were tattoos that Gabby designed herself," Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt said during a news conference Tuesday in Bohemia, New York. "She was an artist."
The tattoos read "Let It Be" in what appears to be cursive writing.
"I wanted to have her with me all the time," Gabby’s mother Nicole Schmidt added. "I feel it. This helps that."
"We need positive stuff to come from the tragedy that happened," Gabby’s father Joe Petito said. "We can’t let her [Gabby’s] name be taken in vain."
Gabby disappeared while on a cross-country trek with her fiance Brian Laundrie and was later found dead near a campground in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming on Sept. 19. A coroner said the manner of death was homicide. The exact cause is still being determined.
Laundrie was named a person of interest in her disappearance.
The couple’s trek in a white Ford Transit van registered to Petito began in June from Florida to Long Island, New York, and later westbound. They intended to reach Oregon by the end of October, according to their social media accounts, but Petito vanished after her last known contact with family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, authorities said.
Tuesday marks two weeks since the last sighting of Laundrie as reported by his parents, police said.
Brian Laundrie’s parents – Chris and Roberta Laundrie – told North Port, Florida police that their son went to the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County on Sept. 14 with only a backpack and disappeared. After they reported Brian missing on Sept 17, the search for him began.
Monday, the Laundrie family attorney released a statement of their own. In response to the criticism they’ve faced over their refusal to help law enforcement while Gabby was still missing and the speculation that they may have helped their son escape, their attorney said Brian’s parents do not know where he is, and that they did not help him disappear and elude law enforcement.
"Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him. The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong," attorney Steven Bertolino said in the statement.
Despite Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman claiming he got a tip about Brian Laundrie going to Fort De Soto Park with his parents in early September, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office told FOX 13 Tampa Bay there have been no confirmed tips or sightings of Brian.
Police video released by the Moab Police Department in Utah showed that an officer pulled the couple’s van over on Aug. 12 after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park. The body camera video showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police cruiser while officers also questioned Laundrie.
Moab police ultimately decided not to file any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the converted sleeper van.
FOX 13 Tampa Bay contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.