The mother of slain influencer Gabby Petito has opened up about her daughter’s death in an emotional documentary coming to Channel 5.
Gabby Petito: The Murder That Gripped the World, which airs tonight at 10pm, looks back at the murder of the 22-year-old influencer.
Gabby had been undertaking a road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie from Florida to the West Coast when her family reported her missing on September 11 2021. Unfortunately, her remains were found on September 21, and a coroner stated she died from manual strangulation.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, who returned alone to Florida with Gabby’s van on September 1, went missing on September 13 and eventually was found dead on October 21, after a month-long search.
Laundrie died from a gunshot to the head in what was believed to be a suicide, and it was found earlier this month that he admitted to killing Gabby in a notebook that was found with his body.
22-year-old Gabby was active on TikTok, Instagram and Youtube, where she shared glimpses of her life during the trip. Her disappearance led to a social media frenzy, where fans tried to look for clues in hopes of finding her and later uncover the truth behind her murder.
Speaking in the documentary, which aired in the US last December, Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, broke down as she revealed she ‘knew’ her daughter was dead the moment she heard Laundrie was back in Florida without Gabby.
Gabby Petito, 22, from Florida, was reported missing by her family on September 11 2021 and eventually found dead ten days later. Her fiancé Brian Laundrie, who took his own life sometime between September 13 and October 20, admitted to strangling her to death in a notebook, the police announced in January
Speaking in an emotional documentary on Gabby’s death airing on Channel 5 tomorrow night at 10pm, her mother Nicole Schmidt said she ‘knew’ her daughter was dead the moment she heard Laundrie and the van were back in Florida from September 1
‘I knew the night the police came to my door to tell my that the van was in Florida, I knew,’ she said, her voice breaking.
‘When I knew the van was in Florida, I knew my daughter was gone. I didn’t know how, but I just knew,’ she added through tears.
‘I didn’t tell anyone else that, ’cause I had to do what I had to do, I had to report her missing, and I had to get her pictures out there,’ she said.
‘We had to find her.’
Laundrie and Petito were stopped by police in Moab, Utah on August 12 after several people reported he struck the influencer during a row
The distraught mother also said she would cherish the last hug she shared with her daughter before she headed off on her trip with Laundrie.
Nicole also recounted the last moments she shared with her daughter before she left for her trip.
‘I’ve had so many good memories over the years, but the one thing I hold dear to me is the hug that we had before she left for the trip in our driveway,’ she said, fighting tears.
‘It was a long, long, hug I can’t describe it, I know we were saying goodbye for a long trip but it felt different and now that I look back it felt so different,’ she said.
A visibly shaken Gabby answered police questions for 75 minutes before the couple were allowed to leave;. She was reported missing a month later
‘I squeezed her so tight, and I said, “I love you, please be careful, this is going to be great, you’re going to have so much fun”. And she squeezed me back and that was just really great and now I’ll cherish it,’ she added.
The parents, who heard from their daughter for the last time on August 30 did not know of Gabby’s whereabouts for eleven days before they realized something was off.
They explained in the documentary it was not unusual for Gabby to go a few days without getting in contacnt because she sometimes travelled to remote places without cellphone service.
Her last text to her mother read ‘no service in Yosemite.’
Nicole said she didn’t tell anyone about her belief Gabby was dead because she had to focus on efforts in locating Gabby, pictured during a press appeal on September 13
It later emerged that Laundrie was spotted in Florida with Gabby’s van, but without his fiancée two days later on September 1.
Brian and his family did not respond to Gabby’s parents when they reached out to ask about Gabby’s whereabouts in the early days of her disappearance.
Laundrie took responsibility for killing Gabby in a notebook that was found near his remains more than a month after he went missing, the FBI revealed earlier this month.
The notebook was found next to his body in the Cartlon Reserve swamp near his parents home in North Port, Florida on October 20.
The couple left Florida for a cross country trip in July. However, Gabby stopped updating her family on her whereabouts on August 30
On the road, Gabby and Laundrie stayed in their van or in their tent and documented their journey on Youtube, Instagram and TikTok
He died of a single gunshot wound to the head, and along with the notebook, officers also found a backpack and a revolver. It’s not clear when he died.
Police announced after the contents of the notebook were made public that they were closing the investigation into Gabby’s death, due to the fact Laundrie admitted to it.
The FBI opened its investigation into Petito’s disappearance after she was reported missing by her parents on September 12. At the time, she and Laundrie has been on a cross-country road trip in her white van.
A massive manhunt ensued, and Petito’s remains were found on September 19 at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming near where she and Laundrie had last been seen together – and three weeks after she had last spoken to her parents.
Nicole speaking alongside, from the left, Tara Petito, Gabby’s stepmother, Jim Schmidt, Gabby’s stepfather, and Joseph Petito, Gabby’s father during a press conference in September
She died of blunt-force injuries to the head and neck and manual strangulation, according to the Teton County Coroner. She had been dead for three or four weeks before her body was discovered.
The search for Laundrie took more than a month, with a large group of police officials scouring the Carlton Reserve.
His remains were found on October 20 after water had receded from the search area and the park was reopened. On that day, his parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, then informed law enforcement that they intended to return to the park to search for him. Images from Fox News show the Laundries at the reserve ahead of the search as well as the notebook found by law enforcement.
In a statement on Friday, the FBI said: ‘Law enforcement officers were present when Mr. Laundrie’s parents located an item in the park later determined to belong to Mr. Laundrie.
The couple seemed to be living a beautiful life together, however, it is believed Laundrie was violent with Petito
‘Upon further search of the area, investigators found human remains later confirmed to be Mr. Laundrie, along with a backpack, notebook, and a revolver.
‘A review of the notebook revealed written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death.’
‘All logical investigative steps have been concluded in this case,’ said FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider.
‘The investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito. The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and her family.’
Chris and Roberta Laundrie, Brian’s parents, have been widely condemned for not talking with Petito’s family or turning their son in to police when he returned home from his trip, especially after she was reported missing.
He left their home on September 13, two days after her family on Long Island, New York, reported her disappearance.
Petito’s family criticized the Laundries for not helping them.
Before Petito’s disappearance, she and Laundrie were pulled over by Utah police officer in Moab on August 12, 2021 after they responded to a call from a witness who saw the couple involved in a domestic fight.
Timeline of missing Gabby Petito’s case
July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
Aug. 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’
Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug. 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip
Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nichole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes
Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground; Witnesses say they saw a ‘commotion’ with the couple at Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming
Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm
Aug. 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito’s phone: ‘No service in Yosemite’
Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
Sept. 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida
Sept. 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day
Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito
Sept. 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike
Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Laundrie’s parents claim on September 17 that Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike this day and they hadn’t seen from him since
Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case
Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie
Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon
Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under invesetigation
Sept. 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve
Sept. 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. DailyMail.com photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13
Sept. 23: FBI issues an arrest warrant for Laundrie for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ for fraudulently using a Capitol One Bank debit card that was not his between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000; A probe is launched into the police handling of the Utah police incident on Aug. 12; Laundrie’s parents visit their attorney in Orlando
Sept. 25: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins the search for Laundrie
Sept. 26: A funeral is held for Petito in Holbrook, New York, and her family launch a charity to help parents find missing children
Sept. 27: Manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve is scaled back after 10 day search doesn’t find him. Dog the Bounty Hunter says Laundrie and his parents stayed at Fort De Soto Park from September 1-3 and September 6-8 – and that on the latter visit only the parents left
Sept. 28: Laundrie’s mom is accused of using a burner phone to contact her son Sept. 29: Documents reveal Laundrie’s mom canceled a reservation for the Fort De Soto Park campsite for two from September 1 to 3 and booked for three from September 6 to 8; FBI seizes surveillance footage from site; FBI investigates lead Laundrie bought a burner phone on September 14;
Sept. 30: Bodycam footage from a second officer at the August 12 incident is released showing a distressed Petito admitting Laundrie hit her; FBI agents collect more evidence from the Laundrie home
Oct. 1: It emerges Laundrie’s sister had contact with him after she said she did
Oct. 2: A hiker along the Appalachian Trail claims to have seen Laundrie near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina
Oct. 3: Investigators searched the area on the Appalachian trail for any signs that Laundrie had been there
Oct. 4: Laundrie’s sister told protestors outside her home that her family has been ignoring her after they rebuked her story and that she does not know where her brother is
Oct 5: Laundrie’s sister appeared on Good Morning America to say she would turn her brother in if she knew where he is;
Oct. 7: Laundrie’s father Christopher joins FBI agents on the search for his son at the Carlton Reserve but the search brings up no clues
Oct. 12: Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announces autopsy findings which show Petito died by strangulation; No specific date of death was given – only that she was dead 3-4 weeks before her body was found
Oct. 16: Petito’s parents are seen collecting her ashes from the Valley Mortuary in Jackson, Wyoming
October 20: Human remains found in Carlton Reserve
October 21: FBI confirm the body found belongs to Brian Laundrie. A notebook, backpack and dry bag are also found near the body