VENICE, Fla. – In the ongoing civil trial between the families of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, the attorney representing Petito’s family has revealed that Laundrie’s parents admitted that their son informed them that Petito was “gone” and in need of a lawyer. However, they did not admit to knowing that Petito had been killed. This disclosure came during depositions for the trial, shedding new light on the events surrounding Petito’s tragic death in August 2021.
According to attorney Pat Reilly, Chris and Roberta Laundrie received a frantic phone call from their son on August 29, 2021, just two days after the day Petito was believed to have been murdered. Brian allegedly informed his parents during this call that Gabby was “gone” and that he required legal representation. Reilly clarified that the Laundries did not admit to knowing Petito’s death, only that Brian told them that she was gone.
Following this phone call, Chris and Roberta urgently contacted their longtime lawyer, Steven Bertolino, to inform him that Gabby was “gone” and that their son needed an attorney; the retainer was sent six days later. Reilly suspects that the Laundries, and possibly Bertolino, may have been privy to further information about Petito’s fate. As a result, Reilly has filed a motion to compel Bertolino to disclose what Brian had told him. A hearing has been scheduled for December 20 in Sarasota County Circuit Court to address the motion and determine whether Brian’s attorney-client privilege should be upheld now that he is deceased.
Reilly expressed his desire to uncover the full extent of what Brian had divulged to Bertolino, speculating that there could be additional admissions, such as knowledge of the location of Gabby’s body. Ryan Gilbert, the attorney representing the Laundrie family in the civil suit, has not responded to requests for comment, while Bertolino declined to provide a statement.
According to court documents, the Petito family alleges that Brian used Gabby’s phone after her murder to send text messages to her family in an attempt to mislead them. Of particular note is a text message believed to have been sent by Brian to Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, in which he referred to Gabby’s grandfather as “Stan.” Schmidt asserts that Gabby never referred to her grandfather by his first name, finding this text highly suspicious.
In response to these alleged actions, Schmidt and Gabby’s father, Joe Petito, have filed a lawsuit against the Laundries and Bertolino, accusing them of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Petito family claims that the Laundries were aware of Gabby’s death but chose to take no action aside from releasing a statement expressing hope for her safe return even though they knew she was gone. After several postponements, the trial is scheduled for May 2024.