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One year later, Gabby Petito’s family mourns daughter, seeks justice

WWSB Tampa 8/28/2022 Shane Battis
It's been more than a year since Gabby Petito was killed in a Wyoming national park and her family is keeping her memory alive. © Provided by WWSB Tampa It's been more than a year since Gabby Petito was killed in a Wyoming national park and her family is keeping her memory alive.

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - This weekend brought an anniversary that’s heartbreaking to her family, and those who’ve from across the world and here on the Suncoast, who watched the case unfold.   Aug. 27, 2021 is the day Gabby Petito’s family believes their daughter was murdered. One year later, the family of the North Port woman and her family are remembering her life and pressing forward with lawsuits they hope will bring justice and closure.

On the anniversary of Petito’s death, the community rallied for the The Light up the Night event in North Port where Petito’s memorial bench was adorned with flowers and lights. The display is meant to not only honor Petito, but recognize all of the lives lost to domestic violence.

The young woman was found dead at the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Jackson, Wyoming. An autopsy report found she was strangled to death.

In the following months, a manhunt was launched to find Petito’s ex-fiancé Brian Laundrie who was traveling the country with Petito at the time of her death. The search came to an end after he was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park according to a statement from the FBI.

A notebook was found next to Laundrie’s remains, and earlier this summer passages detailing his confession to the killing came to light.

Weeks ago, the Petito’s parents announced a lawsuit aimed at holding the Moab City Police Department accountable for how they handled a traffic stop they believe could have saved their daughter’s life.

Bodycam video surfaced early in the investigation showing two Moab police officers confronting Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie in a traffic stop during their cross-country road trip. The officers initiated the traffic stop to investigate reports of a fight between the couple but did not make an arrest or give a citation. Instead, the two were separated for the night and weeks later Petito was killed.

The Petito’s lawsuit claims the police department needs to be held accountable for failing to act.

ABC7 spoke to Steve Moyer, a former deputy police chief with the Sarasota Police Department, who believes the Petito family has a strong case. His law enforcement career has taught him that domestic violence situations require immediate action in order to save lives.

“If you look at the history of domestic violence, it doesn’t stop until there’s some kind of intervention,” he said. “There should have been an intervention in this case.”

The Petito family also have another lawsuit underway targeting Laundrie’s parents. This suit alleges the Laundrie’s knew their son had killed Petitio, but they chose to help him hide from law enforcement until his death.

ABC7 will continue to follow both cases and bring you updates on our broadcast and website.

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