Gabby Petito updates: inside the heartbreaking story

In the latest Gabby Petito update, a new documentary reveals unseen footage of the 22-year-old and Brian Laundrie

Gabby Petito case, Gabby Petito update
(Image credit: Yellowstone National Park/Facebook)

It's been over a year since her death, but Gabby Petito updates continue to surface, and her case remains the subject of movies and documentaries. 

The travel influencer and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, decided to embark on a cross-country road trip in 2021, documenting their journey to national parks on social media. But their so-called "van life" came to an abrupt and horrific end. 

In early September, Laundrie returned home to Florida sooner than expected, without Petito. Since her mother, Nichole Schmidt, could not reach her daughter or get any information about her whereabouts from Laundrie, she filed Petito as a missing person on September 11.

Things only got worse from there: on September 19, officials found Petito's remains in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, ruling her death a homicide several days later. 

Petito's mother received the reported last correspondence from her daughter on August 30, according to The Daily Mail. The text read, "No service in Yosemite," seemingly putting the couple in Yosemite National Park in California. However, Schmidt is suspicious of the message. 

"I do not believe the text on August 30th was from my daughter," she said. "The van was in Florida on the 1st [of September]. I think I can do the math."

In the midst of it all the heartache and turmoil, 23-year-old Laundrie went for a hike on September 14 and never returned. His remains were later discovered in the Carlton Reserve in North Port, Florida, on October 20. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, which was ruled a homicide. 

Laundrie was never charged with Petito's death or disappearance, however, the frightening case sparked an outcry for more publicity with similar missing persons cases, like that of Miya Marcano

"Everyone deserves to be found that is missing—everyone," Joe Petito said in the Gabby Petito documentary, which is now streaming on Peacock. 

Just when it seemed like the case was in the past, new evidence appeared in June 2022 and the Petito family issued a lawsuit several weeks later in August. 

Gabby Petito family lawsuit: who are they suing?

On Monday, August 8—a few weeks short of the year anniversary of Gabby's disappearance—the Petito family announced a wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department, seeking $50 million in damages. 

“We believe that these officers were negligent, and that their negligence contributed to the cause of Gabby’s death,” the family's attorney, Brian Stewart, said at a press conference.

"The only effective way to correct these problems is to hold our institutions accountable for failures, including law enforcement," he continued.

On August 12, 2021, the Moah police responded to a domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie shortly before her death, of which body camera footage was released to the public showing a distraught Petito. During the encounter, injuries can be seen on Petito's face, which she brushed off to law enforcement, saying that she also had gotten physical with Laundrie. 

An independent investigation previously found that the responding officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins made unintentional mistakes during the encounter, per Buzzfeed News, including failing to cite Petito for domestic violence, not taking photographs of her physical injuries and neglecting to contact the 911 caller who initially reported seeing Laundrie slap Petito.

“While the full evidence has not been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if the officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today,” attorney James McConkie said in a statement.

According to The New York Times, both parties told the police that they remained engaged to be married, despite the argument. In the police report, Petito is recorded saying she slapped her fiancé out of fear that he was going to leave her in Moab without transportation. The police described Laundrie as the victim of the incident and arranged for him to stay in a hotel that evening, The Times further reported. Charges were not filed. 

Brian Laundrie notebook discovery

On June 24, 2022, the attorney for the Laundrie family released eight pages of the 23-year-old's notebook that was found in the reserve near his deceased body. In it were frightening reveals, according to CNN

"I don't know the extent of Gabby's ingerys (sic) only that she was in extreme pain. I ended her life, I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn't go on without her," he wrote. 

Gabby Petito's parents filed a lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's parents. Though originally denied, a Florida circuit court judge ruled that the lawsuit can proceed, per CNN. 

Who is Gabby Petito?

The Long Island native, who relocated to Florida to live with her boyfriend and his parents, described herself on social media as a carefree spirit who decided to explore what's out there via #vanlife. A fan of "art, yoga & veggies," Petito has a link to her YouTube channel, Nomadic Statik, in her Instagram bio. 

Gabby Petito age: how old was she?

Born on March 19, 1999, Gabby Petito was 22 years old. Her fiancé Brian Laundrie was 23.

What did Gabby Petito do for a living?

Petito was trying to establish herself as a travel influencer on social media and intended to document her trips with her followers. She had been working as a pharmacy technician to save for her trip, according to The New York Times

Several years ago, she had lived in the south and worked at Smoke on the Water in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the community is currently mourning her loss. The restaurant's staff told CNN that she had a sweet disposition and that she "touched so many lives."

Gabby Petito YouTube videos

Nomadic Statik, the couple's YouTube page where they intended to document their trip, doesn't fulfill its purpose. There was only one clip uploaded to their page, though they documented their travels more thoroughly on their respective Instagram accounts, @gabspetito and @bizarre_design_. (Some suspect whether or not Petito personally uploaded those images to her account.) 

How did Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito meet?

The two met as teens on Long Island, and have always had a rocky relationship, according to friends. Many used the term "toxic" to describe their love. 

However, despite their troubles, the two were engaged in 2020. "One whole years worth of adventures and stories down 🥂 & a lifetime to go ☆," Petito wrote on Instagram. 

What does the new Gabby Petito movie reveal about the case?

Following the The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies, and Social Media on Peacock, The Murder of Gabby Petito: What Really Happened aired on Investigation Discovery on October 10, which can be watched at a later time with Discovery+. 

Though we've witnessed video clips from the heartbreaking incident in Moab, this particular documentary, according to Investigation Discovery, will reveal "new footage of the couple sheds light on their struggles that led to the nightmarish outcome."

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again. 

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