Petito’s Death: Allegations Killer’s Family Knew Weeks Before Discovery



The parents of Gabby Petito, a domestic violence murder victim, have launched a lawsuit against the family of her fiancé and killer, Brian Laundrie, claiming they withheld information about her murder and caused them emotional distress. The amended suit alleges that Laundrie’s parents received a call from him saying that Petito was “gone” and he needed a lawyer; later, they hired a lawyer and expressed hopes for her safe return despite knowing of her death. Laundrie later died by suicide and his writings found near his remains claimed responsibility for Petito’s death.

Brian Laundrie Reported Gabby Petito “Gone” Before Her Death, Family Alleges

The fiancé and murderer of Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie, allegedly told his parents that she was “gone” weeks before her dead body was found, according to her family. Despite this, his parents later shared hopeful messages regarding her search efforts.

The allegations were made by Petito’s parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, in a lawsuit they’re pursuing against the Laundrie family and their attorney. This is the latest development in a case that has drawn international attention.

Amending their lawsuit on 30 November, the Petitos accused Laundrie’s parents and their attorney of intentionally concealing information about their daughter’s murder, causing them emotional distress.

The Petitos claim that on 29 August 2021, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie received a frantic call from their son stating that his fiancée Gabby was “gone” and that he “needed a lawyer”. The same day, they allege, the Laundries spoke with a lawyer, Steven Bertolino, informing him of the situation.

By 2 September 2021, the Laundries had paid Bertolino to retain his services, and he subsequently entered into a fee agreement with a Wyoming criminal defense law firm, where Petito’s body was later found.

After Petito’s mother reported her missing on 11 September 2021, a search effort began around Wyoming’s Grand Teton national park. On 14 September, Bertolino released a hopeful statement on behalf of the Laundries about the success of the search for Miss Petito.

The day after his call home, Laundrie sent a text from Petito’s phone to her mother, claiming there was no cell service where they were; an attempt to deceive her into believing Petito was still alive, according to the lawsuit.

Petito’s body was found in the national park on 19 September 2021. An autopsy later confirmed she had been strangled. Laundrie returned to Florida and died by suicide, leaving behind writings confessing to Petito’s murder.

The lawsuit criticizes the 14 September statement that Bertolino released, calling it “outrageous” considering the Laundries knew Petito had been murdered by Brian.

Information about the phone call Laundrie made to his parents came from the Laundries’ depositions in October, according to the Petitos’ attorney, Pat Reilly, as reported by NBC News.

Petito’s death gained significant online attention due to her large social media following, where she frequently posted about her travels with Laundrie. The couple resided in North Port, Florida, where Laundrie’s parents live.

The Petito and Laundrie families settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $3m last year. Petito’s parents pledged any received money would fund a foundation dedicated to finding missing people and curbing domestic violence.

Their amended lawsuit is part of a separate case in Florida that is still pending. Another ongoing lawsuit pursued by Petito’s family is a $50m wrongful death complaint against Moab, Utah police, who allowed the couple to resume their trip despite signs of domestic violence.

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