Gabby Petito case: Memorial grows alongside Utah mural where traveler took final Instagram photos

Gabby Petito mural
Posted at 6:24 AM, Sep 22, 2021

OGDEN, Utah — On the day that human remains found in Wyoming were confirmed to be those of missing 22-year-old traveler Gabby Petito, a small memorial began to take shape outside one of the last places she was seen in public.

Petito's final Instagram post on Aug. 25 included several photos in front of a butterfly mural outside of The Monarch, a restaurant and retail space in Ogden, Utah. The caption read, "Happy Halloween."

The photos were posted not long before Petito and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, drove to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

On Sunday, a search by the FBI and local police agencies recovered human remains near a campground just outside the park's boundaries.

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The remains were confirmed Tuesday as Petito's. Officials say the manner of death has been classified as a homicide.

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On Tuesday, in front of The Monarch's butterfly mural, members of the Ogden community stopped by to add to a growing memorial to Petito. The memorial included a framed photo of Petito, dozens of flowers, handwritten notes, candles, and other items.

"I think of Gabby now when I see [the mural]," said Jake McMahon, who started the memorial. "I felt that we could pay some respect and some love to her family — and to her, of course."

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But McMahon said the gesture isn't just for Petito.

"This isn't rare. This happens all the time," he said. "Other cases like this might not get as much exposure, so the deeper meaning for me is, since we did this yesterday, my Facebook has just been exploding with other cases that people have been sharing all over."

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McMahon plans to send the written notes to Petito's family.

This story was originally published by Brian Schnee on Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City, Utah.