Gabby Petito’s Stepfather Describes How He Identified Her After Police Found Her Dead in National Park

Gabby Petito’s stepfather was the first person to receive the news that her body was found in a national park, thousands of miles away from home.

Stepdad Jim Schmidt was in Wyoming on September 19, searching for 22-year-old Gabby when he got a call from the police, who told him that a body had been found at the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

“They described a piece of clothing to me that matched one of her favorite sweatshirts, that we knew was hers,” Schmidt said to Dr. Phil, recalling that he had to call other family members and give them the devastating news.

Schmidt then met law enforcement officials in a conference room at the hotel he was at in Wyoming. Schmidt recalled seeing FBI agents hurrying to get into the conference room, with the news of Gabby’s death.

“We were all crying in the room. You know, couldn’t believe it, because we were holding out for hope. I knew what we were potentially going to find when we came here,” Schmidt said.

Gabby Petito crying in police car
Moab PD

The lawyer for Petito’s family, Richard Stafford said, “It was from a local shop- so that we knew it was hers,” referring to the shirt Gabby was wearing when her body was found.

Two days after her body was found, authorities named Gabby’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in this case. He hasn’t been charged with her death, but police said Laundrie used a credit card without permission after Gabby had already passed away.

Laundrie is now on the run and has remained elusive for over two weeks.

“You’re only making it worse for us, and for himself and for his family,” Jim Schmidt said.

“Let us have some closure. Let us come to an end to this tragic period and just move on and be able to remember Gabby for all the wonderful memories we had with her and not looking at a TV screen every day wondering if he’s gonna be found. Turn yourself in.”

Laundrie’s parents have insisted they have no clue where he is. They claimed he left their residence with a backpack on and headed to the Carlton Reserve on September 14. They reported him missing three days later.

Anyone with information on Laundrie’s whereabouts should contact the FBI at:, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 303-629-7171. Upload photos and videos to:

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[Feature Photo: Instagram/Gabby Petito]