GABBY PETITO: Brian Laundrie flew back to FL after Utah fight, Petito family speaks out in Dr. Phil interview

Laundrie
Brian Laundrie. Photo credit Nomadic Statik/YouTube

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – The lawyer for Brian Laundrie’s family revealed Tuesday that Brian took a flight back to Florida days after he and fiancée Gabby Petito got into a fight in Utah in mid-August. Meanwhile, Petito’s parents spoke with Dr. Phil, saying they believe Brian is a “coward” who is still alive and in hiding. Brian’s sister, Cassie, also spoke out in a new interview, saying she doesn’t know where her brother is and that their parents should “come clean” if they were involved in his disappearance.

Here’s the latest:

3:25 P.M., OCT. 5: PETITO FAMILY WARNS OF SCAMMERS SOLICITING DONATIONS TO FAKE FOUNDATIONS, FUNDRAISERS

Gabby Petito’s family is warning of online scammers soliciting donations in their daughter's name.

Joe Petito had initially set up a Gabby Petito Foundation to provide resources and guidance to other families with missing children — but the family has had issues with the foundation’s official Twitter account due to fraudulent copycats, according to Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt.

“So our Gabby Petito Foundation [Twitter] page has been restricted, this is most likely due to all the fake pages that have been made already,” Schmidt tweeted Sunday. “Please be aware of that and we will get this resolved.  Thank you all!”

Bronx News12 reported Tuesday that fake accounts impersonating Petito family members were used to message people on social media asking for donations.

“People are at the hardest time of their lives right now, and on top of everything else that they’re dealing with, they have to deal with people scamming,” Jennifer McNamara, a family friend, told the station. “It’s horrifying.”

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2 p.m., BRIAN LAUNDRIE FLEW BACK TO FLORIDA AFTER FIGHT WITH GABBY IN UTAH, FAMILY LAWYER CONFIRMS

Brian Laundrie flew home to Florida on Aug. 17, five days after he and fiancée Gabby Petito got into a fight in Utah that led to a police response captured on bodycam videos.

Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told Newsday that the 23-year-old flew on a commercial flight from Salt Lake City to Tampa on Aug. 17. He then returned to Salt Lake City on Aug. 23 “to rejoin Gabby.”

“To my knowledge, Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses,” Bertolino told Newsday via text. “Brian flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip.”

Laundrie—who is the only person of interest in Gabby’s death and also wanted on a federal bank card fraud charge—returned to Florida in the couple’s Ford Transit van on Sept. 1. The van was seized on Sept. 11, the same day that Petito was reported missing in New York. Days later, on Sept. 14, Laundrie disappeared and remains unaccounted for. Petito's remains were found in Wyoming on Sept. 19.

1 p.m., Oct. 5: GABBY PETITO’S PARENTS REVEAL CLOTHING SHOWED REMAINS WERE HERS BEFORE CORONER’S ID

In a new interview with Dr. Phil, Gabby Petito’s parents revealed that it was an article of clothing that confirmed to them that remains found in Wyoming were hers before she was positively identified by a coroner.

The remains were found at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area near Grand Teton National Park on Sept. 19. Two days later on Sept. 21, authorities confirmed they were Petito’s, and the coroner ruled her death a homicide.

All four of Petito’s parents—mom Nichole Schmidt, stepdad Jim Schmidt, dad Joseph Petito and stepmom Tara Petito—sat down with Dr. Phil for the interview.

When the remains were found, Jim Schmidt was in Wyoming for the search effort. He said he got a call from the FBI, who told him they had information they wanted to share with the family.

“We could see out the front window,” Jim said. “And I saw basically the one agent coming in pretty quickly because they wanted to speak to us before it got out, and they wanted to make sure that we were notified and that we were aware that they found remains consistent of what they believed to be Gabby.”

Jim said the FBI “described a piece of clothing to me that matched one of her favorite sweatshirts that we knew was hers.”

“It was from a local shop, so that we knew it was her,” added Petito/Schmidt attorney Richard Stafford, who also took park in the Dr. Phil interview. It’s unclear where Stafford meant by “local,” but Gabby was a Long Island native.

Jim said there were other people missing in the Grand Teton area at the time of his stepdaughter’s disappearance, so the FBI wanted to make sure they had found Gabby.

“There was another girl out there who closely matched the description of Gabby, so that’s why they wanted to be very careful about saying we found remains before the coroner can positively identify,” he said.

Jim said he was ultimately the one who called Nichole, Joseph and Tara to tell them Gabby’s remains had been found. He described an emotional conference call between the four parents; Nichole was in New York, while Joseph and Tara were in Florida.

“I knew what we were potentially going to find when we came here and I felt it was my responsibility to make that call,” Jim said. “I was able to compose myself and we got everybody on a conference call, and I was able to relay it to everyone.”

Nichole said the call was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to listen to.”

“He said that they found remains, and we knew it was Gabby, even though we were hoping it wasn’t,” she said. “It didn’t hit me right away, for a few seconds. But I knew she was gone. As a mom, I knew she was gone.”

Nichole said she already felt that her daughter had passed weeks earlier, when she found out on Sept. 11 that Brian Laundrie had returned to Florida with the couple’s white Ford Transit van without Gabby. That was also the day her daughter was officially reported missing with Suffolk County Police.

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

Tara also described the heart-wrenching conference call, saying, “I think my body just went into shock.”

“It took me a minute, and then you just break down. You just fall and cry. It’s horrible—just horrible, horrible, horrible. Because you have all this hope that maybe she will be found.”

12 p.m., Oct. 5: GABBY PETITO’S FATHER REVEALS TEXT HE SENT TO LAUNDRIE FAMILY BEFORE SHE WAS REPORTED MISSING

In a new interview with Dr. Phil, Gabby Petito’s father revealed one of the texts he sent to Brian Laundrie’s family as his family was growing increasingly concerned that they hadn’t heard from her or Brian in early September.

All four of Petito’s parents—mom Nichole Schmidt, stepdad Jim Schmidt, dad Joseph Petito and stepmom Tara Petito—sat down with Dr. Phil for the new interview set to air on Tuesday.

Nichole and Joseph said they tried calling and texting the Laundries but never heard back and only got their voicemails.

“I can’t tell you how many times (I called),” Joseph said.

“Any phone number I can get for that family, there was a couple numbers for the mom,” he said, referring to Roberta Laundrie.

“Police officers called her, detectives called her,” Nichole added.

Joseph said one of his texts essentially said, “We’re going to call the police, just letting you know, because we have no idea.”

“A normal parent, when you text someone that they’re going to call the cops because you can’t find their child, they would reply,” Joseph said. Instead, he got “no response.”

Nichole said they didn’t know that Brian had returned to Florida with the couple’s white Ford Transit van on Sept. 1 until Sept. 11, when the vehicle was seized by police.

“We actually thought they were both missing at that point in time when we were calling,” Nichole said. “I was worried about both of them.”

Sept. 11 is also the day that Petito was reported missing with Suffolk County Police on Long Island.

“When I reported her missing, a detective came to my door and let me know the van was in Florida,” Nichole said.

She said that’s when she knew something was seriously wrong.

“It was a combination of that and that (Brian) requested to speak to a lawyer and wouldn’t speak to the police department,” said Petito/Schmidt attorney Richard Stafford, who also took park in the Dr. Phil interview.

“Well to be honest, we don’t even know if he did that,” Joseph said of Brian. “That’s what the parents did. That’s what they did. They had papers at the door, handed them to whoever knocked on the door, ‘Talk to the attorney.’”

“You know, I’m a dad and I make my kids stand up for their decisions,” Joseph added. “You know, if they make a mistake... ‘I’ll help you, I’ll walk you through that path.’ But you’re going to own up to your mistake, because that’s what a parent does. Not what they’re doing.”

Joseph said they can only speculate what happened after Brian returned home with the van.

“The van got there—and whatever happened with his parents after that, I don’t know,” he said. “I honestly don’t know. And, to be honest, they probably wouldn’t tell the truth to begin with.”

8:15 a.m., Oct. 5: BRIAN LAUNDRIE'S SISTER URGES HIM TO 'COME FORWARD' AND THEIR PARENTS TO 'COME CLEAN'

“I do not know where Brian is,” Cassie Laundrie told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in her first sit-down interview since Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming last month.

“I really wish he had come to me first that day with the van, because I don’t think we’d be here,” she said, referring to the white Ford Transit van that Laundrie returned to Florida in without Petito back on Sept. 1.

“I worry about him. I hope he’s okay. And then I’m angry and I don’t know what to think,” his sister said. “I would tell my brother to just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess.”

Cassie also revealed the last time she saw her brother.

“The last time I physically saw and the last time I physically spoke to my brother was on (Sept. 6),” she said. “I’ve tried to get in touch with him—phone went to voicemail.”

Cassie also shared a photo of Laundrie and his 5-year-old nephew at Florida’s Fort De Soto Park, where their family camped five days before Petito was reported missing in Suffolk County on Sept. 11.

“We just went for a couple of hours, and we ate dinner and had s'mores around the campfire and left,” Cassie said of her visit to the campsite. “There was nothing peculiar about it, there was no feeling of grand goodbye, there was no nothing.”

“I’m frustrated that in hindsight I didn’t pick up on anything,” she added. “It was just a regular visit.”

Cassie said the camping trip was “not hidden from law enforcement” and that she has been “cooperating with police since day one.”

She said she doesn’t know if her parents are involved in her brother’s disappearance. (Chris and Roberta Laundrie have not been accused of a crime.)

“I think if they are, then they should come clean,” she said.

While Brian has spent days in the wilderness before, it’s unusual for him to be gone this long, Cassie said.

“I’d say Brian’s a mediocre survivalist. It wouldn’t surprise me if he could last out there a very long time, but also I don’t think anything would surprise me at this point,” she said. “If the FBI finds him in Timbuktu, I’d be like, ‘All right, well that’s where he was.’ I’ve got—I’ve got nothing.”

She said she hopes her brother is alive “because I want answers just as much as everybody else.”

Cassie also said it’s hard for her to watch the police bodycam video from Moab, Utah, that shows officers responding to a domestic incident between Petito and her brother on Aug. 12.

“It was pretty typical of them to argue and try to take space from each other, but people saying that they saw public domestic violence, I’ve never seen anything like that from either of them,” she said.

8 a.m., Oct. 5: GABBY PETITO’S FAMILY SPEAKS WITH DR. PHIL

Gabby Petito’s family spoke with Dr. Phil, saying they believe Brian Laundrie is still alive and that he may be using his outdoor experience to survive and evade capture.

All four of Petito’s parents—mom Nichole Schmidt, stepdad Jim Schmidt, dad Joseph Petito and stepmom Tara Petito—sat down with Dr. Phil for the new interview set to air on Tuesday.

Asked if they believe Laundrie is hiding somewhere, all four said they believe he is.

“I do,” Joseph Petito responded, adding that he thinks Laundrie is “a coward.”

“Flat out—I’d use some other words, but I can’t use them on your show,” Petito said. “He’s a coward.”

“Anyone that lived in that house is a coward, and they don’t know how to stand up for their actions,” Petito added, referring to the home of Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta.

“Where do you think he is likely at?” Dr. Phil asked. “Is he living off the land somewhere?”

“Possibly,” Nichole Schmidt said.

“Does he have that skill set—I mean is he an environmentalist, survivalist type?” Phil asked.

“I believe he bragged about that, like that he was good at that stuff,” Schmidt said.

10:00 p.m., Oct. 4: BRIAN LAUNDRIE’S SISTER SPEAKS OUT: DOESN’T KNOW WHERE BRIAN IS, PARENTS WON’T SPEAK TO HER

Brian Laundrie’s sister, Cassie, spoke to protesters outside of her Florida home Monday, telling them she has no idea where her brother is and that their parents have stopped talking to her.

She also couldn’t definitively say whether her parents had aided Brian’s disappearance — though no evidence has so far suggested they have.

“We have been cooperative with the police since Sept. 11 when they called,” Cassie Laundrie said in the video, published by TMZ.

Laundrie also said she never knew that her brother had driven the van he and Gabby Petito used for their cross-counter trip back to Florida.

“We are just as upset, frustrated and heartbroken as everybody else,” she went on

On her parents, Cassie added: “They’re not talking to us, either.”

A videographer then asked why they had stopped communicating.

“If I knew, I would say. I don’t know,” Cassie added.

The videographer then asks if Cassie believed her parents were “involved” in Brian’s disappearance.

“I don’t know,” Cassie repeats.

8:45 p.m., Oct. 5: DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER TELLS DR. OZ HE BELIEVES BRIAN LAUNDRIE IS STILL ALIVE

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Reality star Duane Chapman, AKA Dog the Bounty Hunter, told Dr. Oz he believes Brian Laundrie is still alive and equipped with “some form” of communication in a pre-taped interview scheduled to air on The Dr. Oz Show Tuesday.

“I believe he has some form of communication, and I do not believe that Brian is deceased or dead. I believe that Brian is not well because this is some tough area out there,” Chapman said. “Let’s get him alive and let him go to trial in Wyoming and let’s get this over with. Cause if not, they might be attending another funeral.”

Chapman, who is reportedly pitching a new reality show as he searches for Laundrie, also said he found a “primitive makeshift camp” while searching for Laundrie in Florida and turned over items to authorities who are also searching for the lone person of interest in Gabby Petito’s death.

“So the investigation over the weekend, we found a primitive makeshift camp. So we collected some items around the camp and have turned them over as of yesterday to the FBI,” Chapman said.