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Some of Gabby Petito’s family members on the Suncoast remember her as an ‘amazing human being’

Grandaunt remembering the life of Gabby Petito.
Grandaunt remembering the life of Gabby Petito.(WWSB)
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - Members of Gabby Petito’s family are trying to make sense of her death. It’s something they say is surreal and very shocking.

“You can’t put it together because you don’t believe something like this in our family would happen,” said Jill Hengel, Gabby’s grandaunt.

Hengel, who lives in Port Charlotte, tells ABC7 she was an amazing human being who had a tremendous impact on the world in her 22 years.

“Gabby was the most beautiful, happy person. She was always smiling,” said Hengel.

Hengel said she was very creative and talented, and that’s what led her on this cross-country adventure.

“The free spirit that she was, the art that she did,” said Hengel. “The mural that she did on her wall in New York was of the Beatles, it was beautiful and that’s what Gabby did a lot of.”

Family and friends have started to wear light blue ribbons, which was Gabby’s favorite color. They have also been visiting the growing memorial for Gabby outside of the North Port City Hall, joining so many others who didn’t even know her.

“I have two daughters of my own and to be a father and to have this happen to a daughter of yours, any child of yours, it’s just a travesty,” said Augustine Delgado, a North Port resident. “It should have never happened.”

A butterfly release and vigil will take place at the site of the Gabby memorial this Saturday from 7-9 p.m.

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