Brian Laundrie’s family to face depositions this week in Gabby Petito wrongful death suit

Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt claim Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew Gabby Petito was dead when she vanished in August 2021, but chose not to take any action

Andrea Cavallier
Tuesday 15 August 2023 18:07 EDT
Gabby Petito’s father calls Laundrie family ‘cowards’

Brian Laundrie’s family will be deposed this week in a civil lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents for causing emotional distress when the doomed couple was considered to be missing.

Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt claim Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew Gabby was dead when she vanished in August 2021 while on a road trip with their son Brian, but chose not to take any action other than saying they hoped she would be found.

They are set to be questioned by the Laundries’ legal counsel team, as well family attorney Steven Bertolino, who is also named in the suit, according to WFLA.

It’s not yet known if the Laundries will be present for the depositions, but if they are, it’ll be the first time the two sets of parents have come face-to-face since Laundrie’s suicide shortly after Gabby was murdered.

Cassie Laundrie, Brian Laundrie’s sister, is the only family member who has spoken publicly since Gabby’s death.

“Obviously me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” Cassie Laundrie said in 2021. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and sound and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”

She is set to be questioned by the legal team for Mr Petito and Ms Schmidt on 6 November as part of the series of depositions leading up to a trial in May 2024 in Sarasota County court.

Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, pictured in 2021 as he pleaded with information about his missing daughter

Gabby Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt, wipes a tear from her face during a news conference in 2022

The Petitos sued Brian Laundrie’s parents, accusing them of knowing that their son had murdered Gabby and then helped him with the coverup for nearly a month before her body was found in western Wyoming in September 2021, causing mental anguish, pain and suffering.

Gabby, 23, was reported missing in August 2021. She had been on a road trip with her fiancé Brian, who returned to his Florida home without her.

The couple had traveled by van across the US in the summer of 2021, visiting scenic places in Colorado and Utah before heading north. They documented their trip in detail, in real time, on social media. But their happy travels were not as they made it out to be online.

Police in Moab, Utah, pulled over the van after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb at the entrance to Arches National Park in August 2021. Petito told police she and Laundrie had been fighting. Officers separated the couple for the night and didn’t pursue charges.

Petito’s body was found a month later near a campground on the edge of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. A coroner determined she’d been strangled a few weeks earlier.

A month later, Laundrie was found dead in Florida.

Petito told police she and Laundrie had been fighting. Officers separated the couple for the night and didn’t pursue charges

Brian Laundrie talks to police after being pulled over

Earlier this year, a handwritten note by Roberta Laundrie in an envelope that read “burn after reading” was released after a Florida judge ruled that it could be used as evidence in a lawsuit.

The undated note reportedly informed her son that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much, according to copies of the note shared publicly by attorneys for Petito’s parents.

The letter reads in part: “We will always love each other. If you’re in jail, I will bake a cake with a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body, I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags.”

Roberta Laundrie claims in a sworn statement in the Florida case that she gave it to her son just before he and Petito left on a cross-country van trip.

“I was trying to connect with Brian and repair our relationship as he was planning to leave home," the statement said. “I had hoped this letter would remind him how much I loved him.”

The Petito family expressed doubt about Roberta Laundrie’s claimed timing of her letter, suggesting it was in fact written after Petito’s death.

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