The lawsuit claims Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew Brian murdered Gabby and they planned to help him leave the U.S., WFLA.com reports.
NORTH PORT, FL — The family of Gabby Petito has filed a lawsuit against the parents of her confessed killer, Brian Laundrie, that includes a claim they knew their son murdered the native Long Islander and they had plans to help him go on the run outside of the United States, WFLA.com reports.
The lawsuit was filed by the 23-year-old Petito’sThursday, alleging that around Aug. 28 Brian informed Christopher and Roberta Laundrie of the murder and on that same date, the Laundries spoke with their attorney, Steven on Sept. 2, 2021., the outlet reports.
Petito, a Blue Point native, disappeared in August on a cross-country trip with Laundrie, her fiancé, who returned to his parents’ home in Florida in her van, but without her. After a frantic interstate search, involving multiple law enforcement agencies, Petito was found strangled to death near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19 — eight days after she was reported missing by her mother.
In their lawsuit, her family claims that there was evidence of blunt force injuries to her head and neck, WFLA.com reports.
Laundrie, who had refused to speak with police after Petito was reported missing, had driven to a Florida preserve where investigators believe he shot himself in the head, and his remains were found about one month later.
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In January, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Laundrie admitted to slaying Petito in a notebook found near his remains.
The Petito/Schmidt family lawsuit claimsafter her death “in an effort to hide the fact that she was deceased,” and mentions a text he is believed to have sent to that refers to Petito’s grandfather by his first name, Stan, the outlet reports. Schmidt has stated in previous interviews that Petito never would have called him by his first name and at the time, it concerned her.
Another key part of the lawsuit is that Petito’s parents believe the Laundries were planning to help their son leave the U.S., WFLA.com reports.
“While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt wereconcerning their daughter, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed they were making arrangements for him to leave the country,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit accuses the Laundries of “malice or great indifference to the rights of” Petito’s family, WFLA.com reported.
“Christopher and Roberta Laundrie exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” according to the lawsuit obtained by the outlet.
In a statement to Patch from Petito’s family, they say Laundrie murdered her, then noted the couple were engaged to be married and she would have been “part of the Laundrie family,” but “it meant nothing to Christopher and Roberta Laundrie after their son ended Gabby’s life.”
The statement continues: “We believe Christopher and Roberta became aware of Gabby’s murder on Aug. 28, 2021. There were multiple conversations between Brian, his parents and their lawyer, Steven Bertolino, before Brian left Wyoming on Aug. 30, 2021. Christopher and Roberta had multiple opportunities to disclose to Joe, Nichole, or the authorities that Gabby was no longer alive and to direct them to her body.”
“Instead, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie showed callous indifference to the suffering of Gabby’s family and compounded her family’s anguish, pain and suffering by their actions. For this, Christopher and Roberta must be held accountable,” the statement continues.
The lawsuit seeks at least $100,000, and states that Petito and Schmit dsuffered pain and mental anguish as a result of the “willfulness and maliciousness” of the Laundries, WFLA.com reports.
Bertolino could also not be reached for comment.
In a statement to TMZ, he told a reporter: “As I have maintained over the last several months, the Laundries have not publicly commented at my direction, which is their right under the law. Assuming everything the Petitos allege in their lawsuit is true — which we deny — this lawsuit does not change the fact that the Laundries had no obligation to speak to law enforcement or any third-party including the Petito family.”
“This fundamental legal principle renders the Petito’s claims to be baseless under the law,” he added.
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