Gabby Petito lived, worked in North Carolina for more than 1 year prior to moving to Florida

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Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Slain Florida woman Gabby Petito once lived and worked in North Carolina. She was a hostess at Smoke on the Water, a restaurant near Wilmington.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Slain Florida woman Gabby Petito once lived and worked in North Carolina.

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From September 2017 to January 2019, Petito was a hostess and kitchen aide at Smoke on the Water, a restaurant at Carolina Beach.

WWAY spoke with Petito's friends and co-workers in the Wilmington area. They all said how much Petito loved everyone and make everyone around her feel loved.

"Gabby was a bright soul, a bright light. She was always happy, always had a smile on her face trying to bring people up with her," Smoke on the Water General Manager Lara Witschen said. "She was a good soul, a good spirit, and touched so many lives. That's what we want her to be remembered for."

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The restaurant set up a table in Petito's memory. The restaurant also plans to plant a tree as a lasting memorial to Petito.

Petito was killed while on a cross country vacation with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Her body was found at a national park in Wyoming. The coroner confirmed Petito died by homicide but said her official cause of death would remain pending until the final autopsy results are available.

Laundrie is a person of interest in the case. He took off into hiding more than a week ago after returning to his parent's home in Florida.

Law enforcement said it received reports of a possible sighting of Laundrie in Florida on Monday or Tuesday night, but after an extensive search that lead turned up empty.

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"No one -- and nothing -- of note was located," Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post.