BLUE POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The parents of Gabby Petito spoke out Tuesday for the first time since her death was confirmed.
They are asking that her legacy that her legacy be kept alive by helping other missing people, and for the public's help in finding missing fiancé Brian Laundrie.
"She is with us," Gabby Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt said.
As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, Gabby Petito's parents want good to come from tragedy. They say their new foundation will keep her bright light from dimming by shedding light on other cases.
"We are just hoping that through our tragedy of losing Gabby, that in the future some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that are maybe in a similar situation," said stepfather Jim Schmidt.
In breaking their public silence on the case, nine days after their worst fears were realized, they thanked law enforcement and all who assisted on social media.
"To be honest, it should continue for other people too. This same type of heightened awareness should be continued for everyone, everyone," said father Joseph Petito.
Watch: Gabby Petito Family News Conference
"We need positive stuff to come from the tragedy that happened. We can't let her name be taken in vain," he added. "So anything that we can do to bring that up and help people, that's what we want to do."
"It means a lot to me that she's touched so many lives already," said mother Nichole Schmidt. "We are going to keep the light going and help a lot of people if we can."
Her mother and father and their respective spouses, all loving parents to Gabby, now have tattoos like hers.
"I wanted to have her with me always," Nichole Schmidt said.
"She's always with us every day, she's giving us signs. It's difficult, we've been talking, like where do you go from here, how do you go back to normal, whatever normal may be from here on out," her stepfather Jim said. "But we have each other, we're a big family, we have a huge support network. And we're just going to keep pushing forward and living every day and loving every day, because that's what Gabby did and that's what we need to do."
He was asked whether the family feels angry about her death.
"We go through our bouts. It's an emotional roller coaster. There's ups and downs, days that we're full of pain and grief, sometimes angry," he replied. "But you stop, you take a breath, remember Gabby and all the great times we had with her, and all the good memories, and all the good things we want to do in her name in the future. That's what picks you up, that's what carries you through."
A free spirit on a cross country van trip that appeared happy, until she went missing and Laundrie returned to his parents' Florida home without her, then went missing herself.
Protesters have been barraging the home with bull horns and chants, but his parents claim they have no idea where he is.
Gabby's parents would not answer question about her relationship with Brian at the request of the FBI, but said they trust investigators and urged the public to help find him.
"Justice for Gabby is that we see justice for her homicide," said attorney Rick Stafford. "For the Laundries' silence, the Laundries did not help us find Gabby. They are sure not going to help us find - for Brian, we are asking you to turn yourself in."
"Our focus is still on mourning Gabby and honoring Gabby," said stepfather Jim Schmidt.
Her case is already having a positive impact. The family said other missing person cases are being reopened by law enforcement. They will continue their fight for others like her.
An attorney for the Laundrie family says they do not know where their son is, and that speculation they assisted him in avoiding arrest is just wrong.
"Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him. The speculation 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," said Laundrie attorney Steve Bertonlino.
Editor's note: This story first appeared on Sept. 28, 2021.
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