In an amendment to their lawsuit filed earlier this year, the parents of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old Blue Point native who was killed while on a cross-country road trip with her fiance, now allege her fiance’s parents went on vacation while knowing the location of Petito’s remains before they were discovered by law enforcement in Wyoming.
“They went on vacation knowing that Brian Laundrie had murdered Gabrielle Petito, it is believed that they knew where her body was located, and further knew that Gabrielle Petito’s parents were attempting to locate her,” according to the amended filing from Venice, Florida-based attorney Patrick J. Reilly.
Petito’s parents filed suit in March against the parents of Brian Laundrie, whom the FBI has identified as a suspect in Petito’s killing, alleging Laundrie confessed to killing Petito to his parents, Roberta and Christopher Laundrie, and they attempted to help him flee law enforcement. The suit said the Laundries’ actions inflicted damages on Petito's parents in the form of pain and suffering and mental anguish because of the "willfulness and maliciousness" of the Laundries.
The amended lawsuit, like the original complaint filed in Sarasota County, Florida, does not provide evidence to back the allegations.
Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino, who previously called the claims “baseless,” said in a statement Saturday: “The allegations in the amended complaint may now conform to proper pleadings but they do not give rise to liability under the law. Thus we are still confident the court will dismiss the action.”
The FBI said in January that Brian Laundrie took "responsibility" for Gabrielle 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.
In a statement Saturday, Reilly said, "The court will decide who is right and I am confident any motion to dismiss the complaint will be denied."
Petito’s family alleged in the suit that Laundrie killed Petito on Aug. 27, 2021 — the last day Petito communicated with her family by phone. The pair had left Long Island in July on a cross-country trip in Petito’s white van, with stops planned at several national parks.
Following Petito's death, 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 Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt, from Petito's phone on Aug. 30 saying there was no cellular service in Yosemite National Park "in an effort to deceive" Schmidt "into believing that Gabrielle Petito was still alive,” the lawsuit said.
Laundrie returned home to Florida in Petito's van on Sept. 1 but refused police interviews. Roberta Laundrie later blocked Schmidt from calling, texting or attempting to contact her on social media.
Brian 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 Environmental 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."