Petito Family’s Lawsuit Against Laundrie Family

Gabby Petito’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit in Florida alleging that Brian Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, were aware that their son killed their daughter and attempted to help him flee justice.

“Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the lawsuit alleges.

“As a direct and proximate result of the willfulness and maliciousness of Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt had been caused to suffer pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life experienced in the past and to be experienced in the future.”

In early July, Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, left New York on a cross-country road trip in Petito’s white Ford Transit van. They made it as far as Jackson Wyoming by late August. By Sept. 1, Laundrie pulled into his parents’ driveway in North Port, Florida, driving her van with Petito nowhere to be found.

Laundrie then sent phony text messages between his cell and Petito’s “in an effort to hide the fact” that she was dead, according to court documents and the FBI.

The complaint alleges that Laundrie confessed to his parents on Aug. 28 and that the Laundries hired lawyer Steve Bertolino, a longtime friend, on Sept. 2.

Bertolino told Fox News Digital Friday he has represented the Laundrie family “for many years” and called the civil lawsuit “baseless.”

“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,” he said. “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.”

After Laundrie returned to his parents’ home on Sept. 1, the family said nothing publicly about Petito’s death. The family went camping at Fort DeSoto Park, south of St. Petersburg, between Sept. 6 and 8. Petito’s mother reported her missing to police in her New York hometown on Sept. 11.

That was a day after Roberta Laundrie allegedly blocked Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, on her phone and on Facebook, according to the lawsuit.

“A normal mother and father would, after having the girl living with them for that length of time, would obviously ask the question, where is she?” said John Kelly, a criminal profiler who has been following the case. “And that’s where it gets real weird. Would he tell them that he killed her? Would he tell them that something happened to her? Would he tell them that she ran off?”

The lawsuit also alleges that during this time, the parents were attempting to arrange a way for their son to flee the country. He left their home in the days following the missing person report and was ultimately found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a swampy park nearby in late October. Fox News Digital was the only media present in the reserve with Laundrie’s parents and two members of law enforcement at the time.

His body had been there for weeks after floodwaters complicated a massive FBI-led search.

In his final words, Laundrie admitted to killing his former fiancée Petito in a remote Wyoming campground, according to the FBI, based on entries investigators found in the notebook recovered near his skeletal remains in a Florida swamp in October. They did not describe the contents of the notebook until three months later.

The FBI also at the time announced previously undisclosed details about her death, which a Wyoming medical examiner ruled a homicide by manual strangulation last fall. She had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Court documents show the Petito and Schmidt families are seeking more than $100,000 in damages for alleged negligence, pain and suffering. They are demanding a jury trial.

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