Gabby Petito's Mother Recalls Last Moments with Daughter Before She Left on Cross-Country Trip

"She just had this presence," Gabby Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt, says. "It was just magical"

Gabrielle Petito
Gabby Petito. Photo: Suffolk County Police Department

Gabby Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt is left with many memories of her beloved 22-year-old daughter. Most precious among them, she says, is that of their last moments together.

"There are so many good memories over the years, but the one thing that I hold dear to me is the hug that we had before she left for the trip in the driveway," Schmidt explains in an exclusive clip from Peacock's new documentary, The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies, and Social Media.

"People would meet her and just fall in love with her," says Schmidt in the clip, as she flips through old photographs of her daughter — many, from childhood. "She just had this presence. I don't know what it was. It was just magical."

In the documentary, which begins streaming tomorrow, Petito's parents and stepparents reflect on the brief time they had with her, while sharing their fondest memories.

A press release says The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies, and Social Media "leaves no stone unturned" in its pursuit of the truth surrounding what happened during Petito's ill-fated cross-country trek this summer with fiancé Brian Laundrie.

In a trailer for the film, released Monday, Petito's stepfather, Jim Schmidt, called her disappearance "every parent's nightmare."

Petito's father, Joseph Petito, and her stepmother, Tara Petito, also appear in the clip, which is shown below.

On Sept. 11, the Long Island, N.Y., woman's family filed a missing persons report.

Ten days earlier, Laundrie, 23, quietly returned home — alone — from the couple's trip. He had driven back to his parents' North Port, Florida, home in Petito's van.

Petito's parents last heard from her on Aug. 25, when she was near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Authorities spent days searching for Petito, but her body was found in the park on Sept. 19. Two days later, authorities announced that she had died by homicide, which was later revealed to be strangulation.

Shortly before Petito's remains were found, the Laundrie family attorney, Steve Bertolino, said that he had also gone missing.

Laundrie's partial remains were recovered in late October, near his last known location: Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port, Florida.

Bertolino subsequently confirmed Laundrie had died from a gunshot wound to the head. His death has been ruled a suicide.

While identified as a person of interest in Petito's killing, Laundrie was never formally charged with her murder. Even now, investigators have not said whether they believe Laundrie strangled Petito.

Richard Stafford, the attorney for the Petitos, said in a recent statement that federal authorities as well as prosecutors in Wyoming have asked that he and Petito's parents and stepparents withhold comment on the case.

"The Schmidt and Petito family has been aware of the circumstances surrounding the suicide of the sole suspect in Gabby's murder," reads Stafford's statement. "Gabby's family will not be making a statement at this time due to the request of the United States Attorney's Office and the Teton County Prosecutor's Office."

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The statement continues: "The family was asked to not make any comments and let the FBI continue their investigation. The family was also asked to wait for the United States Attorney's Office to make a determination on whether any additional individuals will be charged. When that determination is made, we will have a statement."

While Petito was still considered missing, Laundrie's parents, Christopher and Roberta, refused to cooperate with police.

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