In June 2021, travel blogger Gabby Petito embarked on a trip to visit national parks across the United States with her then-boyfriend Brian Laundrie, according to CNN. Petito and Laundrie had been a couple since 2019 and had been traveling long distances in Petito’s refurbished van. Additionally, Petito’s parents said they trusted Laundrie after meeting him and believed their 22-year-old daughter would be safe traveling with Laundrie.
But when family members lost contact with Petito in late August 2021, they immediately launched a search for Petito and Laundrie. Then, when the internet got wind of the case, the search for Petito went into high gear, with people around the world trying to find out if she was still alive. Tragically – after Laundrie fled police with alleged help from his family – Petito’s body was found on September 19, 2021 in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and the cause of death was given as strangulation.
As for Laundrie — after dodging the police and fleeing to Florida’s Carlton Reservation — he committed suicide and his body was found in October 2021, according to the question. Now, as the one-year anniversary of Petito’s murder approaches, her mother, Nichole Schmidt, is reflecting on the tragedy.
Gabby Petito’s mum believes domestic violence has happened before
With Brian Laundrie’s posthumous confession, Gabby Petito’s murder case is technically closed. However, that hasn’t stopped Nicole Schmidt from reconsidering her daughter’s relationship, especially in regards to what she may not have seen before.
Just weeks before Petito went missing, the couple were being questioned by Utah police when a witness saw Laundrie “hitting” Petitio during a fight, NBC News reports. A police bodycam recorded Laundrie and Petito’s questioning, and the footage was released to the public. When asked if Schmidt believed the Utah incident was the first case of domestic violence in Petitio and Laundrie’s relationship, she said: “Looking back? No.”
Now, a year after her daughter’s death, Schmidt is working with a domestic violence charity to support victims and raise money for them. Petito’s mother is one of the board members of the Gabby Petito Foundation, established in October 2021, and donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in honor of her late daughter and other victims.