The parents of a murdered 22-year-old woman say they once trusted the man they now believe is responsible for her death.
As the New York Post reports, Nicole Schmidt and Joseph Petito appeared on the Australian news program “60 Minutes,” revealing that they believed their daughter would be safe with Laundrie on the couple cross-country road trip this summer. Petito’s family lost contact with the budding lifestyle vlogger in late August, and her body was found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest on September 19. The Teton County medical examiner said earlier this month that Petito was likely dead for three to four weeks before her body was found.
Schmidt said on “60 Minutes” that she was concerned for her daughter’s safety during the adventurous road trip but was comforted by her belief that Laundrie would keep her daughter safe.
“I worried. I told her to be careful, be safe. To be aware of your surroundings. Don’t trust anybody,” Schmidt said. “But I felt safe because she was with Brian and I felt like she would be OK.”
“I thought he would take care of her,” Petito’s mother said.
Both parents said that Laundrie appeared to be a decent guy and had won the affections of extended family.
“He was very polite and quiet,” Schmidt said. “He would read books to my little one at night before bed. So, he just seemed like a nice guy.”
Joseph Petito, who like his ex-wife is remarried and has more children, said he had the same impression of Laundrie.
Petito documented her road trip with Laundrie on Instagram and on your YouTube page. By all impressions, the couple looked happy. But Joseph Petito now understands that all may not have been as it appeared.
“She did look happy,” Gabby’s father said. “But as we look more and more into this, it might not have been as great as people online perceived.”
Laundrie returned to his Florida home on September 1 without Gabby, but with the couple’s converted camper van they had taken on the road trip, which was registered in his girlfriend’s name. Petito’s family appears to have tried to report her missing unsuccessfully in Florida, where Petito and Laundrie had been living before the trip, before ultimately filing a missing person’s report on September 11 in Suffolk County, New York, where Petito grew up and where the couple was last seen before they embarked on the journey.
Laundrie’s parents told police they last saw him on September 13, when he said he was going for a hike at the Carlton Reserve in Saratoga County, Florida. Authorities have been searching the reserve for Laundrie since mid-September but so far have not reported finding any evidence of the fugitive. Laundrie was named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance before she was found dead of manual strangulation, but he has not been named a suspect in her murder.
The 23-year-old man is the subject of a federal warrant charging him with unauthorized use of another person’s financial accounts in late August and early September.
Police have not identified any other possible suspects in Petito’s murder.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast