Lawsuit: Brian Laundrie called parents to say Gabby Petito was ‘gone’

Posted at 5:39 PM, December 4, 2023

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (Court TV) — In an amended complaint filed in their civil lawsuit, Gabby Petito‘s family has alleged that Brian Laundrie told his parents that Gabby was dead before he even returned home.

FILE – This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. (The Moab Police Department via AP)

The Petito family had previously filed a lawsuit against the Laundrie family, alleging that they knew Gabby was dead but stayed silent during a national search for her, even making statements that they hoped the family would be reunited. No criminal charges have been filed against Laundrie’s parents, Roberta and Christopher.

The lawsuit was amended to include Steven Bertolino, the attorney who represented the Laundrie family and made statements on their behalf during the national search for Gabby.

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In the new complaint, filed on Nov. 30, the Petitos allege that on Aug. 29, 2021, Brian Laundrie advised his parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie that Gabby was “gone” in a frantic telephone call that Gabby was “gone” and he needed a lawyer. That same day, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie spoke with Steven Bertolino, advising him that their son told them Gabby was ‘gone’ and that Brian needed a lawyer. According to the complaint, the Laundries then sent Bertolino a retainer on September 2, 2021.

FILE- In this image taken from police body camera video provided by The Moab Police Department, Brian Laundrie talks to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park in Utah on Aug. 12, 2021. (The Moab Police Department via AP, File)

The Petito family contends that on Sept. 2, 2021, Bertolino acted on Brian Laundrie’s behalf when he entered into a fee agreement with a criminal defense firm in Laramie, Wyoming, to represent Laundrie. Before retaining the firm, Bertolino is alleged to have “contacted other attorneys in Wyoming to represent Brian Laundrie, including a public defender’s office in the same county where Gabby Petito’s body was ultimately discovered.

READ MORE: Gabby Petito’s family requests Laundrie family’s texts with Brian

Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park on Sept. 19, 2021. Petito’s cause of death was blunt force injuries to the head and neck with manual strangulation, and according to the lawsuit, investigators believe she was killed on Aug. 27.

“Christopher Laundrie, Roberta Laundrie and Steven Bertolino exhibited conduct which was outragous and went beyond all bounds of decency and is regarded as odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community, in that they remained silent concerning Gabrielle Petito’s death and the location of her body, but then made statements giving hope to Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt that Gabrielle Petito was still live (sic), and expressed it was a difficult time for the Laundrie family, knowing their son had murdered Gabrielle Petito.”

A jury trial is scheduled for May 13, 2024.