The stepfather of Gabby Petito has visited the place close to a mountain campsite where the young woman’s remains were found, according to a close friend.
The FBI on Tuesday confirmed that the remains recovered on Sunday at the Spread Creek campsite, located about 20 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming, were those of Ms Petito, who failed to return home from a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.
They said an autopsy had found she was the victim of a homicide, meaning she had been killed by another person, and that further tests were needed to determine the precise cause of death.
As officials reopened the Spread Creek campsite, a number of campers, tourists and the media made their way to the spot where it is believed the young woman’s body had been found. Members of the media discovered a cross fashioned from 18 pebbles, in a riverbed.
Gary Rider, a friend of Gabby’s stepfather Jim Schmidt, said the pair had visited the site on Wednesday and that they had left some flowers next to the other cross.
“We did go – the small cross with flowers was made by Jim and myself,” Mr Rider told The Independent.
“That larger cross was not done by anyone connected with the search or recovery of Gabby.”
Mr Rider, who organised a GoFundMe campaign to help in the search, added: “It was just a coincidence, we confirmed that.”
Mr Schmidt, who is married to Gabby’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, had been helping in the search for his stepdaughter in Wyoming, handing out flyers and posters in restaurants and shops and trying to raise awareness.
Ms Petito’s mother and stepfather live in Long Island, New York, while Ms Petito had lived for the last two years in North Port, Florida, with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.
Mr Laundrie returned from the trip with the van by himself.
He has since gone missing and is being searched for by police. Police stress no charges have been brought against Mr Laundrie, though he has been described as a person of interest.