Gabby Petito’s parents say they trusted Brian Laundrie to ‘take care of her’; ‘Her life was stolen from her’

Video still of Gabrielle Petito courtesy of Moab Police Department

LONG ISLAND, New York, Oct. 17, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The mother, father and stepfather of Gabby Petito had concerns about her extended van trip to the mountain west with fiancé Brian Laundrie, but they felt like he would do all he could to keep her safe.

“Oh, of course, I worried,” Gabby’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, told interviewers for “60 Minutes — Australia.”

“I told her to be careful, be safe, you know, make sure to be aware of your surroundings, you know, don’t trust everybody,” she said. “I felt safe because she was with Brian and I felt like she would be OK. I think I thought he would take care of her.”

Ultimately, the body of 22-year-old Gabby would be found in rural Teton County in Wyoming, where the young couple was believed to have last camped. Her manner of death was confirmed as homicide. Her cause of death was found to be manual strangulation.

The young couple had driven west in early July, with Gabby planning to document her Van Life on a number of social media platforms.

But on Sept. 1, Brian Laundrie, 23, returned home alone, in Petito’s van.

And 18 days later, Gabby’s remains were found in rural Teton County. But by then, the Laundrie family had hired an attorney to say they they would not be cooperating with investigators, and Brian had gone missing.

Laundrie’s parents told officials they believed he was camping in the Carlton Nature Reserve. Officials began searching the marshy, 24,565-acre reserve.

The “60 Minutes — Australia” interview also covered Moab Police intervention after a witness reported seeing Brian slapping Gabby.

“It’s just hard to watch,” Nicole Schmidt said of the Moab Police bodycam video. “I wanted to jump to the screen and rescue her. And the shame, that it ended the way it did (is) what makes me sad.”

Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito are shown during a stop by Moab Police following a domestic violence report by a witness. Images: Moab Police

Schmidt said what she saw when viewing the Utah video breaks her heart.

“I saw a young girl that needed someone to just hug her and keep her safe. I feel so bad for her. I wish that she reached out to me.”

Petito’s social media updates continued for about two more weeks before stopping abruptly. Schmidt wasn’t worried at first.

“I was worried probably day four and five, I started texting,” she said. “I was texting her every day anyway, but I wasn’t getting responses by day six, seven. I was checking her social media, I didn’t see any activity. And I started calling her dad, and I was talking to Jim about it and I said, ‘I think I’m worried,’ and everybody was like, she’s fine, she’s fine. They’re out in mountains, they have no signal. And I said ‘No, it’s not like her.'”

Schmidt said that after failing to reach Gabby, she reached out to Brian and his parents, but got no response.

It wasn’t until the night of Sept. 11, Schmidt said, that detectives contacted her.

That was “When the detective came to my door to let me know that the van was in Florida with him. She also said that he had obtained a lawyer. I almost fell on the ground, because I was just like, ‘Where’s Gabby?’ and that’s, that was my response to that information. And I, in my mind, just went into shock. I knew something was wrong.”

The coroner’s findings were another shock.

“I just hope that she didn’t suffer, and that she wasn’t in any pain,” Petito’s mother said, adding she hoped Gabby was “in a place that she wanted to be looking at the beautiful mountains… You never think it’s going to be yours,” Schmidt said of her daughter. “This is surreal.”

Brian Laundrie was named a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance in mid-September. On Sept. 22, law enforcement officials issued a federal warrant for his arrest related to his use of Gabby’s credit cards.

Gabby Petito. Photo: North Port Police Department/Twitter

Joe Petito said he takes some comfort in the last words he exchanged with daughter Gabby.

“My very last sentence was I love you, and her last sentence to me was ‘I love you, too.’

“Gabby was 22 years old. Her life was stolen from her. She was stolen. She was taken from us,” Petito said.

Schmidt says she has no doubt Laundrie’s parents have knowledge they are withholding about what transpired between Brian and Gabby.

“I think silence speaks volumes,” she said. “Yes, I believe they know, probably if not everything, they know most of the information. I would love to just face to face ask, ‘Why are you doing this? Just tell me the truth.”

Brian Laundrie. Photo: North Port Police Department/Twitter

Jim Petito said he can’t understand the Laundries’ silence.

“If Brian was staying at my house and Gabby returned to my house without him and in his vehicle, I’d be on the phone with his parents saying ‘Listen, we got an issue we need, you know we need to, you know, we got a mess of stuff we got to be talking about. Now call me back’….

“It’s torturous,” the grieving father said. “If they do know something and they’re withholding that, and they don’t want to let us know — yeah, that’s cruel. And if you don’t know and you’re still not saying something, it’s still cruel. And that is my opinion.”

See the “60 Minutes — Australia” video below.

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