Gabby Petito’s family was awarded $3M after they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the parents of Brian Laundrie, who they believe killed their 22-year-old daughter last year. Months after Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt filed a civil suit in Sarasota County (where Brian’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, reside), a settlement was announced on Thursday, signed by Sarasota County Circuit Judge Hunter W. Carroll.
The suit alleged that the Laundries hindered the search for Petito and knew that she “had been murdered by their son,” who later died by suicide. Patrick Reilly, an attorney for Petito’s family, said: “The Petito family lost their daughter, and they were also denied the opportunity to confront her killer. No amount of money is sufficient to compensate the Petito family for the loss of their daughter, Gabby, at the hands of Brian Laundrie.” Brian Laundrie did not have $3 million at the time of his death and the settlement amount is “an arbitrary number.” The money will go toward the Gabby Petito Foundation, which was established after her August 2021 death.
Petito and Laundrie were on a cross-country trip when she disappeared. The engaged couple left Blue Point, New York, on July 2, 2021, in a 2012 Ford Transit van and documented their journey on YouTube and Instagram. They traveled to Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming before Petito was reported missing. Reports of altercations began to surface including one incident where police in Moab, Utah, responded to a report of a “domestic problem” between the pair. Petito stopped communicating with her family, and Laundrie returned to Florida alone with the van, which was recovered by North Port police at the home the couple shared with his parents. Wanted for questioning in Petito’s disappearance,Laundrie then vanished and his body was found in Florida in October 2021, a month after Petito was found dead in Wyoming. A coroner ruled Petito’s death a homicide and said she died by “manual strangulation.” Officials have said that Laundrie died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and left a note saying he was responsible for his fiancée’s death.
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