Brian Laundrie's Parents 'Knew the Whereabouts' of Gabby Petito's Body When They Vacationed with Him: Suit

An amended lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito's parents alleges the Laundries were not only aware of their daughter's murder while she was deemed a missing person, but knew the location of her body

Nichole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, whose death on a cross-country trip has sparked a manhunt for her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, speaks alongside, from left, Tara Petito, stepmother, Jim Schmidt, stepfather, and Joseph Petito, father, during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Bohemia, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Gabby Petito's parents and stepparents at a press conference in September 2021. Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo

The family of slain 22-year-old Gabby Petito have doubled down on their accusations against Brian Laundrie's parents in an amended civil suit filed Thursday, now alleging that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew the whereabouts of Gabby's body as authorities poured resources into a massive missing persons investigation.

The amended lawsuit filed by Gabby's parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, seeks $30,000 in damages for the mental anguish they suffered due to the alleged deceit of the Laundries. It expands on a March filing that claimed Christopher and Roberta helped Brian conceal Gabby's murder and were making plans for him to flee the country.

The suit also asserts that instead of helping Joseph and Nichole locate their daughter, the Laundrie parents went on vacation with Brian and ignored pleas for help from Gabby's family — and that Roberta blocked Nichole's phone number and Facebook profile in September to avoid contact as Nichole sought answers about what happened to Gabby.

"Christopher Laundrie 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," the filing, which was obtained by PEOPLE, reads.

If Joseph and Nichole's claims are true, they poke a hole in the clueless narrative that the Laundries put out during Gabby's missing persons investigation.

On Sept. 14, before Gabby's body was recovered, the Laundrie family released a statement through their lawyer that said: "It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family."

The lawsuit responds to that statement saying, "For the Laundries to express their 'hope' that Gabrielle Petito was located and reunited with her family, at a time when they knew she had been murdered by their son, was beyond outrageous."

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito. North Port Police Department/Facebook

The Deadly Road Trip Behind the Lawsuit

The Petito and Laundrie families entered the international spotlight last summer when Gabby's parents reported the young woman missing after she stopped responding to messages while on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, Brian. It was soon revealed that Brian had quietly abandoned the trip early and returned to his parents' house in Florida — without Gabby.

Nobody in the Laundrie family notified Gabby's parents that she was missing, or that Brian had left their daughter behind, even though the Laundries retained an attorney the day after Brian returned. (The date the Laundries retained an attorney is a key detail in Joseph and Nichole's lawsuit, since it aligns with their theory that Brian's family knew about her murder from the beginning and withheld vital information.)

In September, Gabby's body was located in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A medical examiner determined she died by homicidal strangulation. Brian, who vanished around the same time amid nationwide calls for his arrest, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Florida wilderness in October.

After a months-long criminal investigation into Gabby's disappearance and — later — murder, the FBI determined in January that Brian was responsible for her death, stating that he had written a confession in his notebook before he took his life.

What's Next for the Lawsuit

When Joseph and Nichole's lawsuit was initially filed in March, their attorney, Richard B. Stafford, released a statement saying: "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.

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Steven Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, shared a statement with PEOPLE around the same time claiming that it was the family's "right under the law" to stay quiet, and that he directed his clients to do so.

"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," Bertolino wrote. "This fundamental legal principle renders the Petitos' claims baseless under the law."

Bertolino previously filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against his clients, and is likely to do so again after Thursday's amendments.

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