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Gabby Petito's family says Brian Laundrie’s parents knew about her murder the day after it happened

They also claim the Laundries planned to help their son escape the country
Posted at 12:58 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 19:05:36-05

NORTH PORT, Fla. — A new lawsuit claims Brian Laundrie told his parents he murdered Gabby Petito the day after her death.

WFLA News in Florida uncovered the lawsuit filings Friday afternoon in a bombshell report that adds another potential twist to the tragic story.

Gabby Petito’s family filed a lawsuit against the parents of Brian Laundrie this week, WFLA reported, accusing the Laundrie family of knowing their son murdered 22-year-old Petito and claiming they were planning to help him leave the country.

FOX 13 News anchor Bob Evans talks below about the new lawsuit filed against the Laundrie family

Bob Evans talks about the Petito family lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's parents

According to court documents obtained by WFLA, Petito's father, Joseph Petito, and mother, Nichole Schmidt, filed the civil action against Chris and Roberta Laundrie on Thursday, March 10. The new records include some new charges that the FBI, which is leading the investigation into the Petito and Laundrie cases, had not previously disclosed, WFLA reported.

Petito is thought to have died on Aug. 27 at the hands of Laundrie, according to the records. In a written journal entry discovered with Laundrie's remains in Sarasota County late last year, he claimed responsibility for her death, according to the FBI.

Petito's death was ruled homicide by hand strangulation by a coroner, but the civil action says she also suffered blunt force injuries to the head and neck.

Petito Van
Petito's van is seen in an FBI holding area after Brain Laundrie drove it back to Florida without her.

Petito's parents claim that Laundrie told his parents what happened "on or about" Aug. 28 in the latest complaint.

“It is believed, and therefore averred that… Brian Laundrie advised his parents, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, that he had murdered Gabrielle Petito,” the lawsuit states. “On that same date, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie spoke with Attorney Steve Bertolino, and sent him a retainer on Sept. 2, 2021.”

SEE ALSO: Moab police made 'unintentional mistakes' in Gabby Petito incident, independent review says

According to the lawsuit, Laundrie exchanged text messages using Petito's phone after she died "in an effort to hide the fact that she was deceased."

Gabby Petito Brian Laundrie

The suit also references a text message Laundrie reportedly sent to Schmidt on Aug. 27 in which he refers to Petito's grandfather by his first name - Stan. Petito's mother had earlier expressed concern that the final text message triggered red flags because Petito never addressed her granddad by his first name.

According to the lawsuit, Laundrie texted Schmidt on Aug. 30 from Petito's phone, saying there was no service in Yosemite Park "in an effort to deceive" her into believing her daughter was still alive.

SEE ALSO: Petito case sheds light on domestic violence in Utah

WFLA reported, the lawsuit then lays out some of what happened in the days after Petito’s death.

Petito's parents believe Laundrie's parents were going to help their son leave the United States, according to the records.

Brian Laundrie search warrant
The FBI and police enter the Laundrie's home in Florida to gather potential evidence.

“While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt were desperately searching for information concerning their daughter, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed were making arrangements for him to leave the country.”

“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,” the lawsuit says.

Petito and Schmidt are seeking damages of at least $100,000, according to WFLA.

If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic violence help is available. Call the national domestic abuse hotline 24/7 at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. In case of an emergency call 911.