Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito in a photo released by police.

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito in a photo released by police. Credit: North Port, Fla., Police Department

The parents of slain Blue Point native Gabby Petito have filed a lawsuit against the parents of Brian Laundrie, alleging their son confessed to them that he killed his 22-year-old fiancee and they attempted to help him flee law enforcement.

The new claims from Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt of Blue Point, and father, Joseph Petito of Vero Beach, Florida, are contained in a civil suit filed Thursday against Roberta and Christopher Laundrie in Sarasota County, Florida.

The suit does not provide evidence to back their assertions.

The FBI said in January that Brian Laundrie took "responsibility" for Petito's death in written statements inside a notebook found near his body after he died by suicide, but did not release its contents. The FBI has not publicly accused Laundrie's parents of any wrongdoing.

"It is believed, and therefore averred, that on or about Aug. 28, 2021, Brian Laundrie advised his parents Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, that he had murdered Gabrielle Petito," the lawsuit states.

The suit adds that as Petito's parents were "desperately" seeking information on 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."

In response, Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino, of East Islip, said in a text message: "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 Petitos' claims to be baseless under the law."

Patrick J. Reilly, the Venice, Florida-based attorney for Petito's parents who filed the lawsuit, did not respond Friday to a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and in excess of $100,000 in damages for what it says are the pain and suffering and mental anguish of Petito's parents because of the "willfulness and maliciousness" of the Laundries.

Gabby Petito last communicated with her family by phone on Aug. 27, 2021, while on a cross-country trip with Laundrie in her white van. The suit says Petito's family believes Laundrie killed their daughter that day.

Following Petito's death, according to the suit, Laundrie "sent text messages back and forth" between his cellphone and Petito's "in an effort to hide the fact that she was deceased."

According to the lawsuit, Laundrie sent a message to Schmidt from Petito's phone on Aug. 30 saying there was no cellular service in Yosemite National Park "in an effort to deceive" Petito's mother "into believing that Gabrielle Petito was still alive."

Laundrie returned home to Florida in Petito's white van on Sept. 1 but refused to speak to police. Nine days later, according to the lawsuit, Roberta Laundrie blocked Schmidt from calling, texting or attempting to contact her on social media. Schmidt reported her daughter missing to Suffolk County police the next day.

The FBI and police in North Port, Florida, where the Laundries live, began their investigation by seizing the van from the driveway of the Laundrie home.

Laundrie was formally reported missing on Sept. 17 by his parents after leaving their home days earlier to go on a hike at a nearby nature reserve and not returning.

Authorities searched the area, which was heavily flooded, for several days without finding Laundrie.

His skeletal remains were later discovered by police, while searching with Laundrie's parents, off a hiking trail at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Park in North Port on Oct. 20, along with a backpack, notebook and handgun. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Petito's body was found Sept. 19 in a national forest in Wyoming "near where she and Brian Laundrie had been seen together," the FBI has said. The Teton County Coroner's Office said Petito died as a result of "blunt-force injuries to the head and neck and manual strangulation."

The lawsuit noted that in early September last year, before Petito had been reported missing, her family was "suffering" and "extremely distraught" while attempting to find their daughter. It was during that time, according to the lawsuit, that the Laundries went on a camping vacation to Fort DeSoto Park in Florida on Sept. 6 and 7 — a trip the Laundrie family attorney has previously acknowledged.

The Laundries "knew of the mental suffering and anguish" of Petito's parents and knew they could partly alleviate it by "disclosing what they knew about the well-being and location of the remains of Gabrielle Petito, yet they repeatedly refused to do so," according to the lawsuit, which said the Laundries acted with "malice and great indifference" to the rights of Petito's parents.

"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 lawsuit said.

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