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Gabby Petito is remembered on her 23rd birthday as an ‘angel’ and ‘beautiful human’

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On what was supposed to be Gabby Petito’s 23rd birthday on Saturday, her dad and the vlogger who played a vital role in locating Petito’s body in a Wyoming national park last September posted heartfelt messages in her honor.

“Going to watch the sunset and reminisce about the last sunset we saw together from here. #memories #GABBYPETITO,” the Blue Point native’s father Tweeted from Florida late Saturday afternoon as he captured the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.

Earlier on Saturday, Joseph Petito gathered with family and friends around a park bench dedicated to his daughter in North Port, Florida. Installed last November, the bench is surrounded by colorful steel butterflies and has a plaque in the center that reads, “In Memory of Gabby Petito.”

Gabby Petito’s remains were found Sept. 19 in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the FBI reported.

She was reported missing on Sept. 11 — 10 days after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned to their home in North Port, Florida, without her. The couple had been traveling together on a months long cross country trip that took them to Colorado, Wyoming and many other locations.

Gabby Petito’s remains were located on Sept. 19, less than 24 hours after road trip vloggers Jenn and Kyle Bethune of Tampa, Florida, found and provided video footage evidence that led searchers to the location of her body.

The Bethunes, who travel across the country with their three children in a converted 1983 Silver Eagle bus they call “Blue Betty,” captured images on their GoPros of Petito’s white Ford Transit van parked on the dirt on the side of the road in Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area about 6 p.m. on Aug. 27.

The vehicle was parked near where Petito was found.

On their Red White & Bethune Facebook page on Saturday, Jenn Bethune opened up about what helping find Gabby Petito has meant to her and her family.

“We had something big that could potentially help find her and we knew we needed to get it out as far and as wide as possible, and that’s what we did. We still stand by every single decision we made during it all,” she said in the Facebook post.

“Gabby gave me my life back, I’ll never be able to thank her or her family enough for what they’ve done for us,” explained Bethune, who lost her 7-year-old son Ethan in a car accident 10 years ago. The boy would have turned 17 on Sept. 19 — the same day the Bethunes found the key video evidence and the same day Petito was found.

“I’ve never talked about that day publicly, but today, I felt like it was time because someone out there needs to read it,” Jenn Bethune said in the post. “I say all of this to you, because YOU can do amazingly beautiful things, simply by being YOURSELF. Gabby knew that only she had something the world needed to see, and so do YOU.”

Laundrie was eventually implicated in Petito’s murder, but not until after he too was reported missing in the days leading up to Petito’s remains being found. Authorities eventually discovered Laundrie’s skeletal remains in a preserve in Sarasota County, Florida, not far from his home, on Oct. 21.

The FBI said that in a written journal entry found with his remains, Laundrie admitted being responsible for Petito’s death. The FBI concluded that Laundrie strangled Petito — with whom he had documented violent arguments — and that Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Carlton Reserve swamp.

The Bethunes, along with Jenn Bethune’s Facebook message, posted this photo:

Vlogger’s Facebook message on Gabby’s birthday

Below is the Facebook message posted by Red White & Bethune in its entirety:

Today, a very special young woman is turning 23, up above. This beautiful human touched more lives than she’d ever know, including our family’s.We haven’t spoken out much, about our experience last September. Mainly because we didn’t want to be criticized over it. The truth is, Gabby changed us forever, and we wanted to hold on to that feeling, privately, for as long as we could.As much as I speak out about our personal experiences, I felt like it was time to deliver a special message to you…From the moment we found the footage to now, I wouldn’t change any thing that we did. Our decisions were made based on what we felt was right, in that moment, to do.We knew there would be repercussions, but it didn’t matter. We had something big that could potentially help find her and we knew we needed to get it out as far and as wide as possible, and that’s what we did. We still stand by every single decision we made during it all.During my time in Long Island, Gabby showed me around her town. Actually, it was the start of my “Serendipitous Day”. On this day in particular, I ended up at a lighthouse, on the end of this dock. A yellow feeling came over me and I decided to meditate and do some deep breathing right then and there.With every inhale & exhale out, I was able to let go of 10 years worth of grief from losing Ethan. Up until that moment, I was never able to fully let go of the insurmountable hurt and pain of Him dying. As I opened my eyes, I felt free. It was the most incredible feeling I had ever experienced. Words can never do this feeling true justice.Gabby gave me my life back, I’ll never be able to thank her or her family enough for what they’ve done for us. I’ve never talked about that day publicly, but today, I felt like it was time because someone out there needs to read it.I say all of this to you, because YOU can do amazingly beautiful things, simply by being YOURSELF. Gabby knew that only she had something the world needed to see, and so do YOU. Let your light shine and be the you-est you that you can be. You CAN do big things.Happy Birthday Gabby, you have changed the world and we are forever grateful for your love ♥️

Jenn Bethune from Red White & Bethune (Facebook)

Feature image: Instagram/@gabspetito and Twitter/@josephpetito