Gabby Petito’s mom forgives killer Brian Laundrie but calls out ‘evil’ Roberta: ‘You deserve to be forgotten’

Gabby Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt shocked a packed auditorium Friday when she said she forgave Brian Laundrie, her daughter’s boyfriend and suspected killer.

“I speak for myself here when I say Brian, I forgive you,” she said. “I needed to release myself from the chains of anger and bitterness, and I refuse to let your despicable act define the rest of my life.”

But she unleashed on Laundrie’s mom, Roberta.

“You do not deserve forgiveness,” she said. “You deserve to be forgotten.”

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Schmidt, who never had the chance to face her daughter’s killer in court because he ran into a swamp and took his own life after police launched a missing person investigation, read a victim’s impact statement to a crowd at CrimeCon 2024 in Nashville.

“As for you, Roberta, and I call you out individually because you are evidently the mastermind that shattered your family and mine with your evil ways, I see no empathy in your eyes,” Schmidt said. “No remorse in your heart and no willingness to take responsibility for your actions.”

Roberta Laundrie drove to her deposition in a civil lawsuit in the same car her son snuck away in the night he shot himself rather than cooperate with law enforcement trying to find Petito, whose remains were not found until days later.

Both of Laundrie’s parents conceded in depositions that they had concerns about Petito’s welfare after speaking with him in erratic phone calls shortly after her murder.

Petito’s parents alleged the Laundries knew about the murder and tried to conceal it and help their son evade justice.

The sides settled their lawsuit earlier this year.

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Schmidt also mourned her daughter as a “bright light” snuffed out too early, a talented artist, and a tenacious free spirit.

“I implore you all, live by these simple words directly from Gabby: ‘Just be a nicer person,’” she concluded.

Tara Petito, Gabby’s stepmother, was also among the speakers. She ripped into Laundrie’s behavior after the murder.

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He drove home from Wyoming, where he abandoned Petito’s remains, and went camping with his parents, sister and her children, eating s’mores around a campfire as the victim’s family struggled to piece together what happened and where she was.

“Only someone with true evil in their heart would do such a thing,” she said.

Although the Laundrie parents denied knowledge of the crime, they had sent a $25,000 retainer to a leading Wyoming defense lawyer.

When their son’s remains were discovered in a park near their home in October 2021, he was the only suspect in Petito’s murder. The FBI also recovered a handwritten confession preserved in a waterproof bag. 

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Petito’s disappearance in the late summer of 2021 garnered international attention. She had been chronicling a cross-country road trip on social media as she made her way through National Parks with Laundrie.

Her posts stopped shortly after a domestic violence incident in Utah, in which police were called but no one was arrested. 

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Petito’s family started a charity in her honor, the Gabby Petito Foundation, to fight domestic violence and advocate for missing persons around the country. 

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They have lobbied for federal legislation, some of which became law last year with bipartisan support, as well as lethality assessment laws in Florida, Utah and New York.

The foundation donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline last year.

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If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 (SAFE).