Parents of Petito, Laundrie 'Reluctantly' Cut a Deal

Terms of the settlement of claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress remain under wraps
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2024 8:03 AM CST
Parents of Petito, Laundrie 'Reluctantly' Agree to Deal
Gabby Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt, wipes a tear from her face during a news conference on Nov. 3, 2022, in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Gabby Petito's family has reached a deal with the parents of her killer, the late Brian Laundrie, meaning a civil trial set for May will be avoided. Petito's parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, sued Christopher and Roberta Laundrie and later their lawyer Steven Bertolino for intentional infliction of emotional distress. They claimed the trio knew Petito was dead even as Bertolino put out a statement expressing hope that she would be reunited with her family during a search for her in Wyoming in September 2021. The 22-year-old travel influencer was found dead in Grand Teton National Forest soon after. It was determined Brian Laundrie killed his girlfriend while traveling with her, before returning home to Florida alone.

In unsealed depositions, the Laundries said they were concerned for Petito's wellbeing after their son's return but didn't know what had happened to her until her body was found, per Fox News. Christopher Laundrie described a phone call he received two days after Petito is believed to have died in which his "extremely frantic" son stated, "Gabby's gone." But he said he had "no idea what he meant," per WFLA. Roberta Laundrie also faced scrutiny for an undated letter to her son, in which she wrote, "If you need to dispose of a body, I will show up with a shovel." The families had been negotiating in secret before reaching an agreement Wednesday.

Petito's family said "all parties reluctantly agreed" to the resolution "to avoid further legal expenses and prolonged personal conflict." "Our hope is to close this chapter of our lives to allow us to move on and continue to honor the legacy of our beautiful daughter, Gabby," the statement added. "We look forward to putting this matter behind us," echoed Bertolino in a separate statement, per Fox. He noted the terms of the deal were "confidential." The Petitos were previously awarded $3 million through the settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's estate. (More Gabby Petito stories.)

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