On July 2, 2021, engaged couple – Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie – set out on a road trip in their 2012 Ford Transit van. The cross-country trip was supposed to take four months – it began in Blue Point, NY and they traveled through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming over the next two months or so.
Their trip came to an abrupt end when Petito was reported missing. Laundrie ended up driving the van back to his parent’s home in Florida and was later deemed a person of interest after he refused to discuss where Petito was or what happened. He left his home on Sept. 13 and went missing four days later.
Two days after Laundrie went missing, things took another wild turn when Petito’s remains were found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. One month later, Laundrie’s remains were found in Florida. Gabby died of manual strangulation and Brian died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. What a tragic story.
For the past 16 months, Petito’s family has had to overcome the fact that their 22-year-old daughter was murdered by her fiancee during a road trip – police found a confession in Laundrie’s notebook, which was near his body. It’s a reality no parent should have to face, but it’s one they’re now far too familiar with.
Several months ago, Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt – the father and stepmother of Gabby Petito – filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Christopher and Roberta Laundrie – the mother and father of Brian Laundrie. On November 17th, the judge finally awarded Petito’s family with a $3 million settlement.
“The Petito family lost their daughter, and they were also denied the opportunity to confront her killer. No amount of money is sufficient to compensate the Petito family for the loss of their daughter, Gabby, at the hands of Brian Laundrie,” said Patrick Reilly, adding the settlement amount is just an ‘arbitrary number.’
In the lawsuit, Petito’s family alleged that Laundrie’s family attempted to hinder the search for Petito, despite knowing their son was the one who killed Gabby Petito. Throughout the investigation, Laundrie’s parents only added to the speculation and apparently, the court system agreed, hence the settlement.
The $3 Million Will Go Toward the Gabby Petito Foundation
Gabby Petito’s family endured what no family should have to experience – something they wouldn’t wish upon another parent. That’s why the family founded the Gabby Petito Foundation on October 22, 2021 – just two days after Brian Laundrie’s remains were found. It’s an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) organization.
“The mission of the foundation is to address the needs of organizations that support locating missing persons and to provide aid to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through education, awareness, and prevention strategies,” the foundation’s mission statement reads.
The family already announced that the $3 million from the wrongful death lawsuit will go to the Gabby Petito Foundation. They also filed a second lawsuit against the Moab police earlier this month. This lawsuit could see the family awarded up to $50 million – which, again, would likely go to the foundation.
“We wish to turn our personal tragedy into a positive. It is our hope that Gabby’s foundation will bring these important issues into the forefront of the public eye to the benefit of all our communities,” the family continued in the mission statement. If you’d like to donate to the cause, you can do so via their website.
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