While the world waits for autopsy results out of Wyoming telling whether a body found is 22-year-old Gabby Petito and the cause of death, Fox News is learning who she is, from the people who know her best.
“Gabby made a mark on anyone she came in contact with. Even [if] it was a quick interaction. She not only sees the light in everyone but spreads her light with everyone. At my lowest, she managed to help me keep my chin up,” Petito’s best friend in Florida told Fox News.
On her Instagram account that now has more than 922,000 followers, Petito describes herself in her bio as someone who loves “art, yoga, & veggies.”
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The social media account showcases how the young woman enjoys traveling, hiking and documenting journeys along the way. Her TikTok and YouTube accounts also shed light on her life.
“She’s a very artistic, creative, free spirit,” Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, told Patch.com, noting that her daughter loves living life. “She wanted to just get on the road and go. She wanted to see everything and do everything.”
Schmidt described Petito as healthy and normal, with a flair for art that led her to express herself with tattoos and a navel piercing.
“She’s just one of those fun kids,” Schmidt told the online publication.
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Petito’s family reported her missing Sept. 11, months after she’d embarked on a cross-country road trip with fiancé Brian Laundrie, whom investigators were seeking and have called a person of interest in her disappearance. The family said she and Laundrie met while they were students at Bayport-Blue Point High School in New York.
A former coworker told Fox News both Petito and Laundrie worked at a Publix supermarket in Florida in the lead-up to their road trip, saving up money while fixing their van. The ex-coworker said Petito worked in the pharmacy while Laundrie worked in groceries. Petito also had worked at a juice bar and cafe, and described herself as a nutritionist.
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Investigators found remains believed to be Petito on Sept. 19 in Wyoming; preliminary autopsy results have not been released. If the body is confirmed to be Petito, it could be weeks before the cause of death is made public.
A longtime friend of Petito’s on Long Island, Nikki Passannante, described her to Insider as “sweet, free-spirited and selfless.”
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“There’s always been a warmth about her. When people meet her, they instantly love her.”
Her younger brother, TJ Schmidt, posted, “She touched the world #justiceforgabby,” in his most recent Instagram post.
Fox News’ Paul Best, Audrey Conklin and Jordan Early contributed to this report.