Brian Laundrie told his parents “Gabby’s gone” repeatedly in a “very nervous and very scattered” phone call from Jackson, Wyoming, two days after he is believed to have killed her at a campsite outside of town, according to court transcripts made public Monday.
Both Christopher and Roberta Laundrie conceded in depositions for a civil lawsuit that they had concerns for Petito’s welfare after the conversations.
Petito’s father, in a fiery deposition of his own, called Laundrie a “piece of s—” who was “raised by pieces of s—.”
Both of Laundrie’s parents could not identify any girlfriends prior to Petito. However, they described him as an outgoing person with a lot of friends. They recalled meeting Petito for the first time and revealed that they had been under criminal investigation in the fall of 2021 in connection with the case. Neither parent was charged.
He asked his father for help with a lawyer, and although Christopher Laundrie denied knowledge of Petito’s murder at the time, he told Petito family attorney Pat Reilly that, “after the conversation of how frantic he was and, you know, it was something I thought we had to consider.”
Roberta Laundrie, giving her own deposition a day later, also recalled the event.
“I just know from the tone of Chris’s voice it was something serious,” she told Reilly.
They took it seriously enough to contact their attorney, Steve Bertolino, and send him $25,000 to retain a Wyoming-based law firm on behalf of their son, but they said they did not know what actually happened to Petito at the time.
“If she just left and walked away, do you think he would have needed an attorney for that?” Reilly asked.
You want me to assume that they spent all this money on an attorney because a boy broke up with his girlfriend?
“It was – it was a situation of how frantic he was,” Christopher Laundrie replied in his deposition. “I had no idea what to think. He asked me to get a lawyer, and I couldn’t get any more information from him.”
Days later, when the killer showed up on his parents’ driveway in Petito’s van, “like a kid who came home, you know, in trouble,” his father said.
“Let’s connect the dots,” Reilly said. “He told you Gabby was gone. He’s frantic, and he’s upset. He’s like a kid that came home, and he was in trouble. Did that lead you to believe he murdered Gabby?”
“No,” Christopher Laundrie replied. Ultimately, he said, Bertolino told him not to try and discuss Petito’s disappearance with his son – and he said it was not “his place” to send an anonymous tip to police as the case picked up nationwide attention in September 2021.
A Florida court published the testimony of Brian Laundrie’s parents regarding what and when they knew about the death of Gabby Petito on Monday as part of an ongoing civil lawsuit.
Read the deposition of Christopher Laundrie
Christopher Laundrie said he did not know the couple had left on their cross-country road trip until he saw a phone bill that showed his son called a realtor in Utah.
He said that when his son flew home for a few days in August 2021 after a domestic violence incident in Moab, Petito “didn’t feel safe” so his son “put her in a hotel.” However, he said he was not aware of the police stop until after it was reported in the news. Roberta Laundrie said she did not know about the stop until after her son was dead, even though he had come home twice by then.
Christopher Laundrie repeatedly called his son on the suspected day of Petito’s murder before the two spoke for about five minutes, Petito family attorney Pat Reilly said during his deposition.
Read the deposition of Roberta Laundrie
“Do you know why you would have called him three times within a three-hour period and left him a voice mail message?” Reilly asked.
“I might have just been wanting to talk to him,” Laundrie replied. He said he could not recall what the two spoke about when he finally got through. He said they had a “very good conversation” the following day, but Aug. 29 became “the day everything you know, hit the fan.”
“He was not calm, and he got very exciting and told me things had – you know, ‘Gabby’s gone,’ and he got very frantic,” Laundrie said of his conversation with his son that day. “Everything was frantic and quick. So you know, Gabby’s gone.”
The father said he had “no idea” what his son meant.
“He said, you know, ‘Can you help me,’ you know, and he might need a lawyer,” Christopher Laundrie said.
Laundrie, the only suspect in Petito’s death, is believed to have killed her around Aug. 28, 2021. According to his father’s deposition, he made a “frantic” phone call to his parents the next day, telling them “Gabby was ‘gone’” and that he needed a lawyer. Christopher Laundrie soon sent a $25,000 check to Bertolino to retain a Wyoming lawyer for Brian.
Petito’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Laundries, and later Bertolino, alleging they knew about the murder, tried to help the killer avoid justice and caused emotional distress with a public statement expressing “hope” that she would be “reunited with her family” more than two weeks after her death.
Wayne Pollock, an attorney and media consultant who specializes in “the court of public opinion,” argued the statement was reasonable and ethical as part of an effort to end the case against him. In part, he argued that the controversial statement was warranted because Rick Stafford, an attorney for Petito’s parents, had been publicly demanding answers from the Laundries.
The filings were made public as part of Bertolino’s motion for summary judgment – which, if successful, would allow the judge to make a ruling in the case without a full trial. The parties are scheduled for mediation on Feb. 21.
The depositions of Petito’s parents were also made public. Her father, in a fiery, 59-page document, said that after reading Bertolino’s Sept. 14 statement he was furious and that he’d learned that before Laundrie’s remains were found in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, “rodents ate him.”
The FBI and police in North Port, Florida, recovered partial skeletal remains in the swamp after searching there for weeks when floodwaters finally receded. Laundrie shot himself in the head with a revolver and left behind a confession in a waterproof bag, in which he admitted to killing Petito and tried to frame the murder as a sympathetic act.
If the case goes to trial, it is scheduled to begin on May 13.
Petito’s parents have started a foundation in her name, which donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline last year.
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 (SAFE).