A solemn candlelight vigil was held Friday for Gabby Petito in her Long Island hometown, bringing together hundreds of community members mourning the death of the 22-year-old, WABC-TV reports.
Neighbors in Blue Point, New York, placed lanterns at the end of their driveways on Friday evening as part of the event, called “Light the Night For Gabby Petito.”
The lanterns were provided in exchange for a $20 donation to the Petito family, according to the television station.
Neighbors also walked silently around Petito’s former neighborhood, where thousands of trees had been adorned with blue ribbons, the color chosen because of Petito’s blue eyes, organizer Jennifer McNamara told the New York Post.
Petito was reported missing on September 11 and her body was found Sunday at a campsite in Wyoming. Authorities have classified the death as a homicide but have not said what caused it.
Petito had been on a road trip traveling the country with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest in the case.
Noreen Gibbons, who described herself as a second grandmother to Petito, said she had planned to host Petito and Laundrie at her home in Oregon as the couple was traversing the country.
That never happened.
“In life, Gabby was a bright shining star. And now in her death she is the brightest star,” Gibbons told News 12 Long Island.
Blue Point resident Jennifer Horton told the television station why she decided to put a light at the end of her driveway.“When the community loses one, we all do,” Horton told News 12. “So just to remember the great life she had, losing her so young and just to really celebrate her life.”
Another resident, Laura Trent, told WPIX-TV that she did not know Petito but lit a lantern in solidarity with the Petito family.
“This is what we do,” Trent told WPIX-TV. “We’re all here to support them and love them and be there for them.”
The vigil is among several events honoring Petito in the coming days. In North Port, Florida, a memorial is scheduled for Saturday when butterflies will be released and candles will be lit; that gathering is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at North Port City Hall.
A funeral service is scheduled for Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home in Holbrook, New York. It will be open to the public.
As for Laundrie, he returned to his parents’ home in Florida on September 1 alone and refused to speak with police. He allegedly went for a hike in a nature preserve near his parents’ home on September 14, but he has not been seen since, according to his parents.
Federal authorities issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie earlier this week after they say he fraudulently used a debit card between August 30 and September 1 after Petito’s death.
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[Feature Photo: Instagram]