‘Gabby’s gone’: Brian Laundrie’s parents reveal what happened after Petito’s death in new depositions

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In the hours after the murder of Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie made repeated phone calls to his parents who, years later, continue to maintain they were never told Petito was dead, according to court documents released Monday.

For the first time since Petito’s murder in August 2021, Petito’s parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, and Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, answered questions under oath in depositions for their civil trial scheduled for May.

Read ‘burn after reading’ letter in Gabby Petito case

WFLA.com has reviewed more than 700 pages of the depositions, which took place in October 2023.  Petito and Schmidt are suing the Laundries and their longtime attorney Steven Bertolino for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The plaintiffs claim the Laundries were aware Brian had murdered Gabby and chose to do nothing other than release statements through Bertolino, including one expressing hope Gabby would be found.

Here are the takeaways from the depositions:

Laundries say they were told ‘Gabby’s gone,’ but claim they weren’t told she was dead

In his deposition, Chris Laundrie admits that Aug. 29, 2021, two days after Petito is believed to have been murdered, is the day when everything “hit the fan.”

Chris said Brian called him in a frantic state and said “Gabby’s gone.” Chris claims he has “no idea” what his son meant and after being asked for help, he called Bertolino.

“And what did he say to you?” Chris Laundrie was asked during questioning.

“I asked him, you know, how is he doing, and he—you know, he was not calm and he got very excited and told me things had—you know, ‘Gabby’s gone’ and he got very frantic. Everything was frantic and quick. So, you know, Gabby’s gone,” Chris Laundrie responded.

“Meaning what?” the attorney asked.

“Well, I have no idea what he meant,” Chris said.

Brian Laundrie’s parents finally admit what their son told them, attorney says

“Well, what else did he say?”

“Well, it was quick. He said, you know—and he was very panicked and he said he didn’t know what to do. He said, you know, ‘Can you help me,’ you know, and he might need a lawyer, you know. And I would—I asked him why he wouldn’t tell me. He was very frantic. Everything was frantic and I started to not really comprehend, and then he said just, you know, ‘Can you help me?’ And I said, ‘Okay. I’ll help you.’ And I calmed him down and I said—I don’t know,” Chris Laundrie recalled. “It was—it was all mumbled and I still don’t remember everything that happened, but, you know, he said he needed help and to get an attorney. And I told him, ‘Yeah, I’ll help you. I’ll call Steven Bertolino, and just stay put.’ And then I asked him again, and he just said, ‘Just help me.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to, so stay calm. Stay put.’ And he hung up.”

Chris and Roberta maintain they were never told anything other than “Gabby’s gone” and because they say Gabby was known to “disappear” for periods of time, they did not believe Gabby had been murdered.

“Where did you think—what did you think ‘gone’ meant?” Chris was asked.

“I didn’t even know what to think at the moment, you know, at all, so that’s that,” he responded.

“Okay. Well, if he told you that she was gone, but she just walked away, would he have been frantic, do you think?”

“Alls [sic] I know is what he told me and it was very quick and very, very nervous and very scattered, so I don’t remember everything he said, but he said he needed help, and I calmed—I tried to calm him down. He would not calm down and he hung up the phone on me,” Chris recalled.

The Laundries contacted Bertolino and sent him a $25,000 retainer. Bertolino began acting as an attorney on the Laundrie’s behalf, contacting attorneys for representation in Wyoming.

Despite saying earlier in the depositions that they had “love” for Gabby, Chris and Robert said they never considered contacting Gabby’s parents after learning Gabby was “gone.”

“I didn’t [call Gabby’s parents], no, because I had no reason to—at that very moment to think anything was – was going on. Gabby took off and did things that I—you know, she—on her own free will, so I had no idea what—where she was,” Chris said.

“I left it in my attorney’s position there,” Chris added later.

Brian Laundrie’s storage unit ‘mystery’

According to the depositions of Chris and Roberta, Brian moved all of his belongings from his parent’s home into a storage unit in Florida a week before he left with Gabby on their trip, but never specified why.

On Aug. 17, 2021, five days after the encounter with Moab police, Brian left his trip with Gabby to fly home to Florida to move his belongings out of the storage unit and back in with his parents. Brian said this was to “save money,” Chris said.

“Why is it that Brian came back to do that instead of asking you to do it?” Chris was asked.

“We offered to do it. He seemed anxious to come home to say—you know, maybe he just wanted to come home, you know,” Chris said.

“Well, that was five days after the Moab incident. Was there anything that you observed about
Brian when he came home that caused you concern?” he was asked.

“None,” Chris responded.

What happened to Gabby Petito?

“And he didn’t tell you that there had been a police incident between he and Gabby just days

“No,” Chris said.

“And he seemed fine?”

“He did.”

“Did he have any bruising on him that you’re aware of?”


“Do you know why he came alone?”

“I have—I don’t know why he came alone. I thought he just wanted to come and see us and say
hello,” Chris responded.

“Did you ask him why Gabby didn’t come home with him?”

“It sounded as if she wanted time to make her website, so that was the only reason, the only
reason that he said. She couldn’t do it while she was there. I don’t know,” Chris said.

“Did he tell you where she was staying?”


“What did he say?”

“Well, staying in the hotel. I don’t know where exactly.”

“Did he say why she was staying in a hotel?”

“She didn’t feel safe, so Brian put her in a hotel, yeah,” Chris said.

“Did he talk with you about the trip?”

“Not really, no,” he replied.

“Did you ask him where he’d been?”


“Did you ask him how Gabby was?”


” What did he say?”

“Everything was fine.”

Petito attorney Pat Reilly says that even after countless hours examining the case, Brian’s decision to presumably spend money to fly home and put Gabby in a hotel to empty the storage unit he had begun renting out just two months prior remains a “mystery.”

Brian said he and Gabby intended to work at a pumpkin farm in Oregon

During the trip home to empty the storage unit in August 2021, Brian Laundrie spent five days with his parents in North Port while Gabby remained in a hotel by herself near Utah. Among the conversations Brian had with his parents, Chris says, is that he and Gabby intended to drive to Oregon to work on a pumpkin farm.

“When he cane home, did you have any concerns about him and continuing the trip?” Chris Laundrie was asked.

“No, no, and he told us again that they were going to Oregon to maybe work in a pumpkin place
that they’d get—learn farming and help with that season of pumpkins. That’s it. That’s what he told me.”

Joe Petito: ‘There will never be justice for Gabby Petito’

When asked if Brian’s death allowed him to escape accountability, Joe said Laundrie took “the coward’s way out,” preventing his family from getting justice.

“And by him dying, you were not able to get justice?”

“There will be no justice for Gabby Petito,” Joe said.

“Does this lawsuit have anything to do with you seeking justice?”

“This lawsuit has—is—is to get a sense, but no, it’s really to hold people accountable for their actions and their choices,” Joe continued.

Joe Petito: There’s no amount we will settle for

The Petito family is seeking damages of at least $100,000. When asked what he hoped to accomplish with the lawsuit, Joe Petito said he was “looking to hurt them as much as they hurt us” and there’s no amount they will settle for.

“I don’t want—I don’t give a s*** about a dime. I don’t. I don’t care. I work. I do well. It’s not about the money,” Petito said. “I want to make them hurt as much as they hurt us. As I told Pat, there’s not amount of money that I would settle for, not a dime.”

“And how —how is this lawsuit going to help you change laws?” Petito was asked.

“It’s not. This lawsuit’s not going to help me do anything,” he said.

“Okay. Now, I know you mentioned earlier that one thing that you would like to get out of this lawsuit is for the Laundrie’s to experience the pain that you felt,” the lawyer continued. “How—how would you—how would you get that from this lawsuit?”

“Because they would—anything that’s out of their control, they can’t—they can’t control what the jury’s going to do. They can’t control what the judge is going to do. So they’ve got to sit there and be tormented and pay legal bills for all of you guys. And I don’t give a s***. I hope they go bankrupt on your s***. I truly do. I don’t want a dime from them. I don’t give a s*** about their money.”

Nichole Schmidt: We wish police had seen Brian Laundrie

In her deposition, Petito’s mother said she was dissatisfied with the way the North Port Police Department handled their investigation after her daughter was reported missing. Brian Laundrie never spoke to investigators about Petito. He refused to talk to police when they went to the family’s home to question him about her disappearance, invoking his Fifth Amendment right.

“How about—do you know if the media was putting pressure on the Laundries to make a statement?”

“I—I don’t know. I was focusing on our side of things,” Schmidt replied.

“What—on your side of things, were you hopeful that—whether it be law enforcement or the
media, that outside forces would put pressure on the Laundries to make some kind of statement?”

“I think I would have been—I was hopeful that the police were doing their job. I didn’t care if the media were doing anything. I just wanted the police to do their job,” Schmidt said.

“Now, you did seem to mention earlier that you were not satisfied with what the North Port police had done, that you felt like the FBI had done a better job; is that correct?” Schmidt was asked.

“For the most part, yes,” she responded.

“Okay. What—what is it that the North Port police did not do that you wish they had done?”

“They never actually physically saw Brian. So, it would have been nice if they just knew that he was actually there. Because they didn’t even know he went missing. They would have seen him leave, apparently. They told us they were watching the house, but they didn’t see him leave, so…”

Roberta Laundrie: ‘Embarrassing’ burn after reading letter written before Gabby and Brian’s trip

Roberta Laundrie spoke about an undated letter she wrote to her son, which she labelled “burn after reading.”

The letter, which contains references to a shovel, burying a body, and getting Brian out of prison, is being used by the Petito family as potential evidence.

“Nothing can make me stop loving you, nothing will or could ever divide us no matter what we do, or where we go or what we say—we will always love each other,” part of the letter said. “If you’re in jail, I will bake a cake with a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body, I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags. If you fly to the moon, I will be watching the skies for your re-entry. If you say you hate my guts, I’ll get new guts.”

In her deposition, Roberta said she wrote the letter before the couple set off on their cross-country trip.

‘Pure evil’: Roberta Laundrie ’emotionless’ during deposition, Gabby Petito’s father says

“Before he was leaving for his—him and Gab’s trip in May of ’21,” she said. “Yeah, like right before they left. Like just a few days.”

When asked why the letter wasn’t dated, Roberta said she “just didn’t think to date it.”

“I don’t always date notes,” Roberta said.

She said she wrote the letter, thinking her son might be away for “a little longer than I— you know, I knew he was going away.”

“I was going to miss him and I just wanted to make sure he knew I loved him,” Roberta said. “I thought he might be concerned, since I was disappointed, that he might think, yeah, I don’t love him, but no. I mean, I really didn’t think he— I just wanted to reassure him that I loved him, no matter what. No matter if he moved away, if he decided to stay out west, if he— whatever he did. If he didn’t buy a house and decided to do something else. I don’t know. Whatever he did, I would always love him.”

When asked why she labeled the letter “burn after reading,” Roberta said she was inspired by a book Gabby bought her son called “Burn After Writing.”

“It was how you could put your deepest thoughts down, and if they were embarrassing, you didn’t want anybody else to read them, the advice on the book was just burn it. So it was like a little joke that I knew he would get. He would know what I was referring to. And I did want him to get rid of it. Not burn it, but throw it out so nobody read it. It’s an embarrassing note.”

“Well, you know that’s what someone writes on a letter when they don’t want it to be discovered, right?” she was asked.

“Right,” Roberta replied.

“Okay. You didn’t want this letter discovered, right?”

“Yeah. It was embarrassing and I didn’t want— you know, yeah. It’s a silly letter. I didn’t want—he’s a grown boy and it was a joke, really. He didn’t have to destroy it, and now I think it’s sweet that he saved it. It was just a little joke.”

Gabby and Brian came back engaged from 1st cross-country trip

Petito and Laundrie started dating in 2019 and got engaged in July 2020, according to Petito’s Instagram page, which was removed.

Chris Laundrie said the couple had decided to take their relationship to new heights during another road trip out west.

“Do you know where they went?” he was asked.

“Where they went out west?” Chris replied.


“I know they went all the way to Oregon, so where there was in between I don’t know.”

“Did they ever get engaged?”


“Do you know when they got engaged?”

“Somewhere along that trip, I think.”

“The first trip?”


“Did you ever have any concerns about the relationship between Brian and Gabby?”

“Any normal concerns of somebody new, somebody, you know, making commitments and all, but otherwise, no,” he said.

“Do you recall any specific concerns that you had?”

“No. I didn’t have any.”

Laundries: Brian never told us about the Moab incident

Chris Laundrie said he was not aware his son and Petito had been questioned by police in Moab, Utah, weeks before her death. Police had stopped the couple on Aug. 12, 2021 after a witness reported seeing Laundrie slap Petito. Body camera video shows police interacting with Gabby. The Petitos filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the the department.

“And he didn’t tell you that there had been a police incident between he and Gabby just days before?” Chris Laundrie was asked.

“No,” he responded.

“And he seemed fine?”

“He did.”

“Did he have any bruising on him that you’re aware of?”


“Do you know why he came alone?”

“I have—I don’t know why he came alone,” Chris said. ” I thought he just wanted to come and see us and say hello.”

WATCH: Utah police video shows Gabby Petito distraught after argument with fiancé

“Did you ask him why Gabby didn’t come home with him?”

“It sounded as if she wanted time to make her website, so that was the only reason, the only
reason that he said. She couldn’t do it while she was there. I don’t know.”

“Did he tell you where she was staying?”


“What did he say?”

“Well, staying in the hotel. I don’t know where exactly.”

“Did he say why she was staying in a hotel?”

“She didn’t feel safe, so Brian put her in a hotel, yeah.”

“Did he talk with you about the trip?”

“Not really, no.”

“Did you ask him where he’d been?”


“Did you ask him how Gabby was?”


“What did he say?”

“Everything was fine.”

Roberta Laundrie: Bertolino still our attorney

Roberta Laundrie was also asked if she and her husband were still being represented by attorney Steven Bertolino, who they retained a week before Petito was reported missing.

During the search, Bertolino frequently spoke to the media on the Laundries’ behalf. The Petito family claims Bertolino knew their daughter was deceased and where her body was located.

Laundries claim attorney knows more on Petito case

“By the way, does Mr. Bertolino still represent you and your husband?” Roberta was asked.

“I believe so, yes,” she responded.

“For what, without going into details? Anything related to this case?”

“I always think of him as my attorney for everything, but—so, yeah. For this case?”


“I guess, so, yeah. That’s why he’s here, right?”

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