NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – As authorities continue searching for missing Long Island, New York native Gabby Petito following her summer “van life” road trip out west with fiancé Brian Laundrie, key players have emerged in the case.
Listen to your favorite News/Talk station now on Audacity
In addition to Petito and Laundrie—who has remained silent since returning from the trip without her—the young couple's families and lawyers have been releasing statements nearly every day, and some of them have been speaking with the media as the search for her intensifies.
Here are some of the names to know in the case:
Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito – Missing
Petito, 22, is from Blue Point, a hamlet in Suffolk County. She met her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, at Bayport-Blue Point High School before eventually moving to Florida about two years ago to live with Laundrie’s family at their home in North Port. In July 2020, she announced Laundrie proposed to her and that she’d accepted.
Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 by her parents after she disappeared in late August while traveling out west with Laundrie. She was working on a travel blog and documented their trip on social media. During an Aug. 12 traffic stop in Utah, she told officers that she’d been a nutritionist who worked at an organic juice bar but “just quit my job to travel across the country.” She said she’d been “really stressed” from the blog and that Laundrie “doesn’t really believe that I can do any of it.” Her last known location is believed to be the area of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Brian Laundrie – Gabby Petito’s fiancé
Laundrie, 23, grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, and eventually moved to Long Island, where he met Gabby, according to comments he made on police bodycam video. “Never loved anyone as much as this girl,” Laundrie captioned a 2020 Instagram photo of the couple kissing.
About two months after the couple’s road trip began, he returned to his parents’ Florida home on Sept. 1 in the converted Ford Transit van, which was registered to Petito and eventually seized by authorities. Petito’s family said they haven’t heard from him since he got back, and he has hired an attorney and declined to speak with police. On Sept. 15, police in Florida described him as a “person of interest” in the case; he has not been accused of a crime.
Nichole Schmidt – Gabby Petito’s mother
The mother of Petito, who lives on Long Island, has released multiple statements along with other members of the Petito and Schmidt families urging Laundrie to help in the search for her. She told 1010 WINS on Sept. 15 that “it boggles my mind” Laundrie hasn’t spoken with them or police.
Petito was in regular contact with her mother during the road trip, with them texting or calling each other several times a week. Schmidt said the last text she received from her daughter’s phone was on Aug. 30, although she doesn’t believe Petito is the person who sent it. She last spoke to her daughter on a video call on Aug. 24.
Jim Schmidt – Gabby Petito’s stepfather
The stepfather of Petito traveled from Long Island to Wyoming and is assisting law enforcement in the state as the investigation into her disappearance continues. “This is the place we felt we needed to be,” he told Fox News on Sept. 16. “We have family and friends in New York and Florida, but we didn’t have anybody out here.” Schmidt has repeatedly called on Laundrie to come forward with information, saying it’s “unspeakable” and “terrible” he has remained silent.
Joe Petito – Gabby Petito’s father
Petito’s father has spoken multiple times to the media, asking for anyone to help in the search for his daughter. “Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking for that help,” he said at a press conference in Florida on Sept. 16. “There’s nothing else that matters to me now.”
Tara Petito – Gabby Petito’s stepmother
Petito’s stepmother stood beside Joe Petito at the Sept. 16 press conference, wiping away tears. She has released statements with her husband and the Schmidts pleading with the Laundries to help them.
Richard Stafford – attorney for Petito and Schmidt families
Stafford, an attorney based in Bohemia, New York, has released multiple statements on behalf of the Petito and Schmidt families. On Long Island on Sept. 16, he read aloud a letter addressing Laundrie’s parents, saying in part, “Please, if you or your family has any decency left, please tell us where Gabby is located. Tell us if we are even looking in the right place.”
Christopher and Roberta Laundrie – Brian Laundrie’s parents
Laundrie's parents lived with their son and Petito at their Florida home before the summer road trip. They have only spoken through an attorney since Petito was reported missing and have come under fire from Petito's family for not saying more. The New York Post published photos of the two of them outside of their North Port home on Sept. 14.
Cassie Laundrie – Brian Laundrie’s sister
Laundrie’s sister is the first member of her family to speak directly to the media about the case. In a “Good Morning America” interview that aired Sept. 17, she said she hasn’t talked with her brother since he got back to Florida. “Obviously me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” she said. “All I want is for her to come home safe and sound and this to be just a big misunderstanding.” Laundrie said she has “cooperated every way that I can” and described her brother as a “wonderful” uncle who has “always been there when I need him.”
Steven Bertolino – attorney for Laundrie family
Bertolino, an attorney based in East Islip, New York, has released multiple statements on behalf of the Laundrie family. He has said the family is “remaining in the background” during the search for Petito and that Brian Laundrie “is not speaking on this matter” on advice of his counsel.
Todd Garrison – Chief of North Port Police Department
Garrison is the chief of the Florida police department leading the investigation into Petito’s disappearance. He has urged Bertolino to “call us to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie,” saying that a “lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation.” On Sept. 15, he announced Laundrie was a “person of interest” in the case but said his focus for now was on finding Petito.