Gabby Petito’s Mom Opens Up About the Moment She Knew Her Daughter Was Gone

by Josh Lanier

Gabby Petito and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, loaded up her converted white Ford Transit van in July for a four-month-long trip across the country. She called home nearly every day. But in late August, those calls stopped. Her parents and stepparents held out hope that she was OK. But her mom, Nichole Schmidt, said she knew something awful had happened when Laundrie drove that van home in early September without Gabby Petito.

Petito’s family appeared on Dr. Phil Tuesday to discuss their early suspicions that something was wrong, their inability to get any information from Laundrie or his family, and terrible days since the FBI found her body in a Wyoming national park.

Nichole Schmidt, who lives in New York, said she knew before investigators found the body that her daughter wouldn’t be coming home.

“I didn’t want to admit it,” she said, “but I felt it the night I found out the van was in Florida on (Sept.) 11th, I felt in my heart that she was gone.”

The family reported her missing to the police only hours before that realization. The FBI found Petito’s remains eight days later. A medical examiner ruled her death as a homicide.

The family of Gabby Petito said they tried for days to reach Brian Laundrie and his family but their messages went unanswered.

“One of the texts, I mean, I was going to call the police. You know, ‘Just letting you know because we have no idea, no responses,’” Joe Petito, Gabby’s dad, said, according to Fox News. “A normal parent, when you text someone that they’re going to call the cops because you can’t find your child, they would reply.” 

Family of Gabby Petito Believe Brian Laundrie is Alive, Hiding

Joe Petito said he can’t forgive the Laundrie family for not helping in the investigation. Police have said the Laundrie’s refused to speak to investigators. They didn’t reach out until after Brian Laundrie went missing on Sept. 14.

Joe Petito said parents should protect their children, but they should also make them do the right thing.

“I’m a dad. I make my kids stand up for their decisions,” he explained. “If they make a mistake, I’ll help you. I’ll walk you through that path. But you’re going to, man, you’re going to own up to your mistake because that’s what a parent does – not what they’re doing. I’m sorry.”

Joe Petito doesn’t know if they are helping their son evade the police. But he believes 100 percent that Laudnrie is alive and hiding somewhere.

“Because he’s a coward. Flat out,” he said. “I could use some other words, but I can’t use them on your show. Coward,” he said. “Anyone that lived in that house is a coward, and they don’t know how to stand up for their actions.”