A new lawsuit from the parents of Gabby Petito says that Brian Laundrie told his parents he’d killed his fiance.
The couple made national headlines when Gabby disappeared in Wyoming, and Brian returned to North Port without her. What many thought was a perfect couple left their families fighting in court after her murder and his suicide.
The lawsuit also says that after telling them he killed Petito, the Laundries tried to help their son leave the country. However, the lawsuit does not reveal how the Petitos believe the Laundries were helping him but does say they were keeping their son’s whereabouts a secret.
WINK News spoke with Florida Gulf Coast University legal expert Pamella Seay to help understand this civil lawsuit. “What they are looking for is evidence of that, and they will gain that or not gain it through discovery,” said Seay.
According to the lawsuit, Brian Laundrie told his parents he’d killed Gabby Petito on Aug. 28 during a stop in Wyoming along their cross-country trip. The lawsuit also says the Laundrie family called an attorney and put him on retainer one day after Brian returned to North Port without their daughter.
Seay explains the difference in a civil suit. “When you’re looking at a civil case, the proof levels are not nearly as high as in a criminal case. We’re all familiar with that… ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ that we hear about in a criminal trial,” Seay said.
“Well, in a civil trial, it’s what they call preponderance of the evidence… or it’s more likely than not that this occurred,” said Seay.
The lawsuit does not say what evidence Gabby’s parents or their attorneys have at this point. But Seay says this lawsuit will allow the team to search for more evidence through subpoenas and depositions.
“There are text messages that might be available. There are records of phone calls. There is that journal that may have some information written in it,” Seay said.
She’s referring to the journal that was found near Brian Laundire’s remains. In it, he claimed responsibility for Gabby Petito’s death. “If you are a party to a lawsuit, you will be requested to appear for a deposition. And you must appear. Now, if you choose not to answer, that’s your right, of course,” Seay said.
The lawsuit also points out multiple appeals to Brian’s parents and asked for any information about their daughter. Brian’s mother, Roberta Laundrie, also apparently blocked Gabby’s mother’s phone number and Facebook account so she couldn’t contact her.
The Petito family says the Laundries’ actions caused them pain, suffering, and mental anguish, and they want compensation.
Seay says Petito’s family may feel strongly that Brian’s parents were complicit, but believing something and proving something are different. “If they did not know for certain, then there is no complicity. We do not know for certain whether they were aware of what their son had done,” said Petito.
The Laundrie family’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, sent a statement to WINK News:
As I have maintained over the last several months, the Laundrie‘s have not publicly commented at my direction which is their right under the law. Assuming everything the Petitos allege in their lawsuit is true, which we deny, this lawsuit does not change the fact that the Laundries had no obligation to speak to Law Enforcement or any third-party including the Petito family. This fundamental legal principle renders the Petito’s claims to be baseless under the law. “
An attorney from the law firm that the Petito’s filed this case through also gave WINK News a statement.
“Brian Laundrie murdered Gabby Petito in Wyoming on August 27, 2021 while they were on a cross country trip. Gabby and Brian were engaged to be married and would have been part of the Laundrie family. This meant nothing to Christopher and Roberta Laundrie after their son ended Gabby’s life.We believe Christopher and Roberta became aware of Gabby’s murder on August 28, 2021. There were multiple conversations between Brian, his parents and their lawyer Steven Bertolino before Brian left Wyoming on August 30, 2021. Christopher and Roberta had multiple opportunities to disclose to Joe, Nichole or the authorities that Gabby was no longer alive and to direct them to her body.Instead, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie showed callous indifference to the suffering of Gabby’s family and compounded her family’s anguish, pain and suffering by their actions. For this, Christopher and Roberta must be held accountable.”