The Petito family’s lawsuit claims that Brian Laundrie confessed that Gabby was “gone” weeks before the young woman’s body was discovered near a rural Wyoming campground.
The parents of Gabby Petito have filed an amended lawsuit claiming that Brian Laundrie had told his parents that Petito was “gone” weeks before the woman’s remains were discovered in rural Wyoming.
According to CNN, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt are suing Laundrie’s parents and their attorney for infliction of emotional distress, claiming that they intentionally withheld information about Petito’s fate.
Petito, notes CNN, was reported missing by her family on September 11, 2021 after embarking on a cross-country trip with Brian Laundry, her fiancé. However, the couple appears to have had recurring disagreements, which—at times—escalated to physical abuse.
Shortly after law enforcement personnel near Moab, Utah, stopped Petito and Laundrie after a concerned bystander reported a domestic abuse incident, Petito went missing.
“It is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino in a statement released several days after Petito’s reported disappearance.
A large-scale search-and-rescue operation was launched, with Petito’s remains recovered on September 19. A coroner later determined that Petito’s cause of death was strangulation.
A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).
Laundrie, in the meantime, returned to his home in Florida. However, as the case attracted national headlines, Laundrie disappeared, committing suicide in a Sarasota County forest reserve.
In the years since, Petito’s family has litigated a series of claims against Laundrie’s parents and the Laundrie estate. According to the most recently-revised version of their complaint, Laundrie called his parents on August 29, 2021, telling them that Gabby was “gone” and that he needed a lawyer.
The amended lawsuit is sharply critical of Bertolino’s September 2021 statement, alleging that the Laundries already knew that Petito had been murdered by their son.
“For the Laundries and Steven Bertolino to express their ‘hope’ that Gabriella Petito was located and reunited with her family, at a time when they knew she had been murdered by Brian Laundrie, was beyond outrageous,” the lawsuit states.
Although the lawsuit does not explain how, exactly, Petito and Schmidt came to learn that Laundrie confessed the murder to his parents, the Petito family’s attorney purportedly told NBC News that the information came from depositions provided by the Laundries in October 2023.
The Laundries have since maintained their silence, with Bertolino saying his clients have no comment at this time.
“We have no comment to the filed allegations,” Bertolino said. “We will be filing our answers in the next few days.”
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