Elizabeth Smart is sharing her heartfelt take on Gabby Petito‘s death.
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, Elizabeth was a guest on Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk, where the 33-year-old kidnapping survivor told co-hosts Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris how situations like Gabby’s make her feel. Gabby was confirmed dead on Sept. 21 after her remains were found following a cross-country road trip with fiancé Brian Laundrie.
“In Gabby’s case in particular—I mean, I was alive, and I came home, and hers, tragically, has not ended that way,” Elizabeth said. “But knowing what it’s like being on the other side, and potentially what may have happened and what may have led up to her final moments, and understanding probably a lot of what she was feeling, it’s heartbreaking.”
When Jada asked if she always maintained hope of being rescued, Elizabeth replied with a smile, “I always wanted to be rescued. I don’t know that I always had hope. There was some pretty dark times, for sure.” Elizabeth was kidnapped from her Utah home in June 2002 at the age of 14 before being returned to her family nine months later.
She went on to say her parents have since told her that the worst part of her ordeal for them “was not knowing if I was alive and out there, or if I was dead.”
Elizabeth continued, “And actually, when I was being taken up into the mountains that first night that I was kidnapped, I asked him if he was gonna rape and kill me, and if he was going to do that, could he please do it fairly close to my house. Because it was important to me that my parents find my body and know that I hadn’t run away. And so, when I think of Gabby Petito, when I think of all of these other victims, I feel like they still deserve just every bit as much to be found so that their stories have an ending as well.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 12, officials confirmed Gabby, whose remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, had died by strangulation and that her death was estimated to have occurred three to four weeks before her body was discovered.
The 22-year-old YouTuber’s parents first reported her missing on Sept. 11 after Brian returned home to Florida alone from their road trip. Police later named Brian a person of interest in the case, with his parents telling police they hadn’t seen him since Sept. 14.
A federal warrant was issued for Brian’s arrest on Sept. 23 after a federal grand jury indicted him for unauthorized use of a debit card after her death. Authorities have not named him a suspect in Gabby’s death.