NORTH PORT, Fla. - Gabby Petito may only have been dead 24 hours when Chris and Roberta Laundrie found out their son, Brian, killed his fiancé and dumped her body in Wyoming, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Gabby's parents.
Now, Nicole Schmidt and Joseph Petito say their daughter may have been dead fewer than 72 hours before the Laundrie family lawyer learned the truth.
Gabby's parents filed the civil lawsuit against the Laundries, seeking $300,000 in damages for "pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life experienced in the past and to be experienced in the future." They But they say it's not about the money.
The Petito family says they want to hold Chris and Roberta Laundrie responsible for the time between August 28, 2021 – when they say Brian told them Gabby was dead – and September 19, 2021 – when Gabby's remains were discovered in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
In previous filings, Petito and Schmidt accused the Laundries of knowing Gabby was dead as early as August 28, within 24 hours of the time Gabby is believed to have been killed.
In court filings, Petito's family says the Laundries knew the location of Gabby's remains and withheld the information despite a nationwide, multi-agency search to find her.
The Petito family now says they intend to prove that the Laundrie family lawyer was contacted on August 29, 2021, and was paid a retainer five days later, on Sept. 2.
They now allege the lawyer, Steven Bertolino, also knew Gabby was dead and the location of her remains, but did not help end the search.
Instead, the lawyer issued statements to the media, on behalf of the Laundrie family.
On September 14, Bertolino issued a statement saying, "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."
"For the Laundries and Steven Bertolino 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 Brian Laundrie was beyond outrageous," the Petito family's new court filing states.
The civil jury trial is scheduled in Sarasota County court in August 2023.