Photograph: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images Keeler's family allegedly knew Gabby Petito had died weeks before the discovery
Brian's parents The Landrys expressed hope that his fiancée would be found after his death, despite his call that Petito had “gone,” the lawsuit alleges.
The fiancé and killer of domestic violence victim Gabby Petito frantically called her parents and told them she had “gone away” weeks before she was found dead. the family said.
Petito's parents, Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt, filed the lawsuit they are filing against the family of Brian Landry and their lawyer in the latest chapter of a case that has made headlines international news.
The families of Gabby Petito and Brian Landry have won a settlement of $3 million. Read more
The Petitos, who added new charges to their lawsuit on November 30, accused Landry's parents and their lawyer of intentionally withholding information about their daughter's murder, causing them pain and emotional distress.
Petitos claim that on August 29, 2021, Christopher and Roberta Laundry received a call from their son saying that his fiancée Gabby had “left” and that he “needed a lawyer.”
That same day, Petitos said, Christopher and Roberta Landry spoke with attorney Steven Bertolino. The Florida Laundries are accused of telling Bertolino that Petito had “gone” and their son needed a lawyer.
Four days later, on September 2, 2021, the Laundries paid Bertolino for retaining his services, who in turn entered into a fee agreement with a criminal defense law firm in Wyoming, the state where Petito would later be found dead.
Petito's mother reported her missing on Sept. 11, 2021, beginning a search effort in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, where she planned to travel with Laundry. Three days after she was reported missing, Bertolino issued a statement on behalf of the laundries, saying: “We hope that the search for Ms. Petito will be successful and that Ms. Petito will be reunited with her family.”
Meanwhile, the day after calling her parents, Landry sent a text message from Petito's phone to her mother saying there was no cell service where they were, the amended complaint notes. Nicole Schmidt now interprets this text as an attempt to “deceive [her] into believing that Gabrielle Petito is still alive.”
Petito's body was eventually found in the national park on September 19, 2021. A coroner later ruled that she had been strangled.
Laundry, for his part, returned home to Florida and committed suicide. In notes found near his remains, Landry claimed responsibility for Petito's murder.
The amended complaint slammed Petito's September 14, 2021 statement that Bertolino released.
“The Laundries and Steven Bertolino expressed their 'hope' that Gabrielle Petito has been found and being reunited with her family while they knew she was murdered by Brian Landry was beyond outrageous,” the lawsuit states.
The amended complaint does not specify how the Petitos learned about Landry's phone call to his parents that his fiancée had “moved on.” But NBC News reported that Petito's lawyer, Pat Reilly, said the information was derived from testimony the laundries gave in October.
NBC also obtained a statement from Bertolino, who said : “We have no comments regarding the charges brought. We will present our answers in the next few days.”
Petito's death attracted widespread attention online as she frequently posted on social media about her and Landry's travels, amassing a relatively large following. The couple grew up in Blue Point, New York, but moved to North Port, Florida, where Landry's parents live.
The Petito and Landry families have settled a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. last year for $3 million. Petitos' parents have promised that all money received will go to a foundation that works to find missing people and fight domestic violence.
Their amended lawsuit is also part of a separate case in Florida. the case is still pending.
Another pending lawsuit being pursued by the Petito family is a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against police in Moab, Utah . There the couple got into a fight at some point. But despite signs of domestic violence, the police allowed them to continue on a path that culminated in a murder-suicide.