Gabby Petito’s mother says she forgives Brian Laundrie, but not his mom

Related video: Joe Petito speaks in February 2024 interview.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Nichole Schmidt, the mother of Gabby Petito, said she forgives her daughter’s killer but called his mom “pure evil” in a Friday speech at CrimeCon in Nashville.

In 2021, Gabby Petito disappeared while going on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who came back home to Sarasota without her.

Her body would later be found on Sept. 19, 2021, at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which allowed a coroner to determine that she was strangled to death and left out in the wilderness for weeks before she was found.

From left to right: Roberta Laundrie, Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito.
From left to right: Roberta Laundrie, Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito. (WFLA/Moab Police Department/Petito family)

While Brian Laundrie was the prime suspect in his fiancée’s death, he too disappeared after taking his own life in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. His remains and a notebook in which he confessed to killing Gabby Petito were found on Oct. 20, 2021.

Gabby Petito’s family, Laundries reach deal, will avoid civil trial

According to CNN, Petito’s mother said she forgave Brian Laundrie for her own sake while speaking at a CrimeCon panel.

“I speak for myself here when I say Brian, I forgive you,” Schmidt said. “I needed to release myself from the chains of anger and bitterness, that I refuse to let your despicable act define the rest of my life. Your atrocious decision to take a life, my daughter’s life, has ignited a fire within me, a fierce determination to protect the innocent from falling victim to monsters like you.”

Nichole Schmidt and other panelists speak at CrimeCon in Nashville (WFLA)
Nichole Schmidt and other panelists speak at CrimeCon in Nashville (WFLA)

However, Schmidt’s forgiveness did not extend to Brian Laundrie’s parents, Christopher and Roberta.

Gabby Petito’s family had an ongoing legal dispute between the Laundrie family over allegations that Roberta and Christopher Laundrie were aware that their son killed his fiancée.

Phone calls released in court documents said that Brian Laundrie told his father that “Gabby’s gone.” A “burn after reading” letter obtained by the Petito family also also revealed that Roberta Laundrie offered to help her son dispose of a body, although it did not have a date when it was written or any mention of Gabby Petito.

Brian Laundrie’s mother explains ‘burn after reading’ letter sought in Gabby Petito lawsuit

The Petito family eventually reached a settlement with the Laundries in February, avoiding a civil trial over the matter.

Although the legal dispute ended, Schmidt’s feelings against Brian Laundrie’s parents remained. In her speech, Schmidt directly said she would not forgive Roberta Laundrie.

“I see no empathy in your eyes, no remorse in your heart and no willingness to take responsibility for your actions,” Schmidt said. “You do not deserve forgiveness. You deserve to be forgotten.”

“We were denied the chance to confront our daughter’s killer, to look him in the eye and express the profound pain his actions inflicted upon us,” she added. “The unbearable weight of Gabby’s absence is compounded by the sickening injustice of her murder remaining unpunished.”

Schmidt spoke at two different panels in CrimeCon, one to help crime victims find their voice by sharing their stories and another panel to help shed light on the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women. The second panel was an attempt by the Petito family to help raise awareness for the underserved indigenous community after critiques said that missing white women get more coverage than missing women of color.

In Gabby Petito’s honor, her family founded the Gabby Petito Foundation to support victims of domestic violence. You can learn more here.

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