Gabby Petito’s parents claim in a new lawsuit in Florida that Brian Laundrie told his parents he killed her as he drove home alone from their ill-fated trip out west in a converted van.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Sarasota County Circuit Court alleges that Laundrie told his parents on Aug. 28 that he had killed Petito, 22, his fiancée of about a year at the time.
Petito’s disappearance during the trip and the subsequent discovery of his body killed on September 19 in a national park in Wyoming became a national obsession, augmented by the subsequent search for Laundrie in a Florida nature preserve.
The FBI concluded that Laundrie strangled Petito – with whom he had previous domestic disputes and abuse – and that Laundrie shot himself to death in the swamp on the Carlton reservation after returning home alone on September 1.
The lawsuit alleges that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie hid that their son confessed to the murder from investigators and Petito’s parents while the search for Gabby Petito was underway.
“In doing so, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie acted maliciously or with gross disregard for the rights of (Gabby’s parents) Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that the conduct was “shocking, atrocious and totally intolerable in a civilized community.
The lawsuit adds that the laundries were “arranging for him (Brian) to leave the country.” No evidence was included to support this claim.
The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $30,000. A Laundries attorney, Steven Bertolino, said in a text message on Friday that his clients have every right not to speak. He also denied the trial’s allegations in general.
“This lawsuit does not change the fact that Laundries had no obligation to speak to law enforcement or any third party, including the Petito family,” Bertolino said. “This fundamental legal principle renders Petitos’ claims without merit in law.”
Petito and Laundrie were both from Blue Point, New York, but moved to his parents’ Gulf Coast home in North Port, Florida in 2019. It was Petito’s van that the couple took along on the of their trip from Florida, which was supposed to end on Halloween. on the Pacific coast.
The lawsuit says that up until that trip and his disappearance, the families “had a cordial relationship.”
“Gabrielle Petito had hopes of becoming a travel influencer, a ‘van-lifer,’ and documenting her travels around the country” on various social media sites, the lawsuit states.
Petito had been in regular contact with his parents and frequently posted on social media about their travels, including YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. The couple had a regular following before the murder mystery took hold.
The FBI says Laundrie sent text messages from Petito’s cell phone to her parents and others in an attempt to pretend she was still alive. He was also accused of illegally using one of his credit cards before his remains were discovered in the Florida nature preserve.