Gabby’s Petito’s stepfather, James Schmidt, revealed that he helped identify the body found in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park as hers.
The authorities discovered the body there on Sept. 19, after several tips came in about seeing Petito’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, acting strangely in the area. According to The Daily Mail, Schmidt was helping police search for Gabby Petito in the park while she was still missing.
Once they found her body, the authorities showed Schmidt a piece of clothing to see if he recognized it. He did; it matched one of Petito’s favorite sweatshirts, he said. She got it from a local shop in New York.
“We knew it was hers,” Schmidt told Dr. Phil in a new interview, according to The Daily Mail.
After identifying Gabby Petito’s body, Schmidt helped build a memorial for his stepdaughter in the place police had found it. At this time, an autopsy has revealed that Petito’s death was a homicide, but they have not yet released the time of death or cause.
The only person who might have more information about Petito’s death is her boyfriend, Laundrie. He hasn’t been seen in three weeks, since visiting his parents’ home in North Port, Florida. Laundrie reportedly arrived at their house on Sept. 1 without Gabby Petito. He left on Sept. 14 to “go for a hike,” and never returned.
Authorities are sweeping through Florida to try and find him, as is reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter. Though police have not changed Laundrie with anything related to Petito’s death, he’s still been deemed a person of interest in the case. They do, however, have a warrant out for his arrest for fraud charges, after he used someone else’s debit card.
Laundrie’s family refuses to say much about their son, which is frustrating police and people across the country alike.
Gabby Petito’s Father Calls Laundrie Family ‘Cowards’
Gabby Petito’s family sat down with Dr. Phil again for an in-depth interview on the 22-year-old’s death and the search for Laundrie. The first part of the pre-recorded interview airs today, while the second part airs tomorrow.
During the interview, the girl’s father, Joe Petito, called the Laundrie family “cowards” for their silence and inaction. Chirs and Roberta Laundrie rarely leave their home in North Port, Florida, due to protestors filling the streets outside their house.
“Anyone who lived in that house is a coward,” Joe Petito said. He added that “they don’t know how to stand up for their actions.”
The Laundries’ have provided very little information on their son’s whereabouts or what happened in the two weeks he was home after leaving Gabby Petito in Wyoming. Joe Petito and Gabby’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, told Dr. Phil that they reached out to the family several times when Gabby was missing. They called and texted throughout early September, until finally reporting her missing on Sept. 11.
“It’s infuriating,” Nicole Schmidt said. Joe Petito also mentioned how “we actually thought that they were both missing at that time.”
To give the Laundries a heads up, Joe told them he was going to call the police “because we have no idea.”
“A normal parent, when you text someone that [you] are going to call the cops because you can’t find your child, they would reply. No response. Nothing,” Nicole said.