The parents of Gabby Petito open up about what life with Brian Laundrie was like before the duo’s ill-fated cross-country road trip.
In a heartbreaking new interview with 60 Minutes Australia, which aired on Sunday, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt provided some more insight into who they thought the 23-year-old was before he became a person of interest in the tragic disappearance and later death of their daughter. The pair recalled how Laundrie had been so “quiet” and “polite” when they welcomed him into their home after becoming her fiancé. He quickly became a part of the family and grew close with the parents’ other children. Nichole explained:
“He was very polite and quiet. He’d draw them pictures and stuff. He would read books to my little one at night before bed. So, he just seemed like a nice guy.”
Joseph then added:
“Every time he would come over he was polite. He’d talk with our other children as well. They got to know him, and they liked him.”
So when they decided to quit their jobs and head off on a cross-country road trip out west, which they documented on social media, the two had some concerns but felt the Florida native would keep her safe. Nichole expressed:
“I worried. I told her to be careful, be safe. To be aware of your surroundings. Don’t trust anybody. … But I felt safe because she was with Brian, and I felt like she would be OK. I thought he would take care of her.”
But as we all know now, that turned out to be far from the truth:
“She did look happy. But as we look more and more into this, it might not have been as great as people online perceived.”
On August 12, police pulled over the twosome’s van over due to a possible domestic violence situation after multiple witnesses saw them arguing and Laundrie striking Gabby. While the observers told police she was the victim, they wrote it off as a “mental health crisis” and instead protected Laundrie by putting him in a hotel. Her mother told 60 Minutes that it was “hard to watch” the body cam footage of the incident, sharing:
“I wanted to jump through the screen and rescue her, and it’s a shame that it ended the way it did.”
And the next thing her parents know, Laundrie returned from their trip alone, quickly lawyering up and refusing to speak with authorities after her parents reported his partner missing. Several weeks later, her body was found in Wyoming, and her death was eventually ruled as a homicide by manual strangulation. Meanwhile, the only person who most likely knows what happened to Gabby is currently on the run with nowhere to be found.
We’re continuing to keep Joseph and Nichole in our thoughts. You can take a look at the entire interview (below):