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Thousands expected at LI service for Petito as search continues for fiance

A memorial visitation for Gabrielle Petito will be

A memorial visitation for Gabrielle Petito will be held Sunday on Long Island.  Credit: Nomadic Statik via YouTube

Thousands of people are expected to attend the memorial service for Gabrielle Petito Sunday in the Suffolk County hamlet of Holbrook, and the funeral home is working with local police and fire officials to ensure it goes smoothly.

"We're expecting a large turnout — in the thousands," said Connor Moloney, funeral director of Moloney's Holbrook Funeral Home. "We're prepared."

The death of Petito, 22, a Blue Point native, was ruled a homicide this past week after her remains were found last Sunday in a national forest in Wyoming. She had been on a cross-country trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, when she disappeared.

The search continued in Florida on Saturday for Laundrie, a person of interest in her homicide who is wanted on a federal arrest warrant for alleged credit card fraud. He has not been directly charged in connection with her death.

North Port, Florida, police said Saturday they continued searching the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve for the seventh day, though with less personnel.

Laundrie's parents reported him missing Sept. 17, three days after they said he went for a hike at the nature reserve and didn't return home. Laundrie had declined to speak to police through his attorney.

The memorial visitation will be held Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the funeral home, 825 Main St., Holbrook. It will be open to the public.

Moloney said members of the Suffolk County Police Department and the Blue Point Fire Department will be on hand to help direct traffic and keep order.

There also will be two emergency medical personnel on hand inside the funeral home, and two outside, he said.

The funeral home has arranged additional parking at nearby Seneca Middle School, he said.

Suffolk police have issued a traffic advisory for the area, saying that while they didn't anticipate closing any roadways, heavy traffic is expected.

Periodic traffic restrictions will be in place on Main Street between Broadway Avenue and Furrows Road, police said.

Service attendees and patrons of businesses along that section of Main Street are encouraged to enter from the Furrows Road side of Main Street. Motorists passing through are encouraged to use alternate routes, police said.

"Our Number One priority is to make sure the family is comfortable," Moloney said.

A video tribute to Petito was posted under the obituaries section of the funeral home's website. It features snapshots from her life, set to music.

Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt, posted a message of gratitude on Facebook to supporters. It reads in part: "As I scroll through all the posts, my heart is full of love. … Your support has been so overwhelming and we are so filled with gratitude. Please know what you are all doing for us does not go unnoticed, and with all of you by our side, we will get #justiceforgabby."

In lieu of flowers, the Petito family asked for donations to the future Gabby Petito Foundation, attorney Richard Stafford said. Donations can be made electronically at Johnnymacfoundation.org.

Petito’s father, Joe Petito, tweeted the details of the visitation Friday morning for "our sweet Gabby" and added: "Thanks to all for your support and love."

With Nicole Fuller

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