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Two weeks before the reported disappearance of his fiancée Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie allegedly enlisted the services of a defense team in Wyoming, funded by his parents.
According to the latest amended complaint filed in the Petito family’s lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents on Thursday, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt assert that Chris and Roberta Laundrie, along with their attorney Steve Bertolino, were aware of Gabby Petito’s death and the location of her remains.
Fox News Digital reports that despite this knowledge, the Laundries never told the Petito family about it. The actions were purportedly carried out in an attempt to shield their son, causing significant emotional distress to the victim’s loved ones.
Court documents were submitted following the deposition of the Laundries and Bertolino by Pat Reilly, the Petito family attorney. Reilly contends that on August 29, 2021, Brian Laundrie made a “frantic” phone call to his parents and said that “Gabby was ‘gone’ and he needed a lawyer.”
On September 2, 2021, the Laundries allegedly contacted Bertolino, who then “entered into a fee agreement with Fleener Peterson LLC,” a defense law firm in Laramie, Wyoming. Gabby’s remains were found around six hours away from Laramie.
While speaking to Fox News Digital on Friday, Bertolino acknowledged that he received a $25,000 retainer from the Laundries, which he used to pay Fleener Peterson. He clarified that he has not received any payment from the Laundries for his legal involvement.
According to the filing, Bertolino also reached out to various other firms within the state, including a public defender in Teton County, where Petito’s remains were discovered.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Petito vanished in August 2021 while on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie. Her remains were found at a campsite in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming on September 19, 2021. Authorities concluded that she died by manual strangulation.
After murdering Petito, Laundrie is believed to have driven the van the couple was traveling in back to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, where he arrived on September 1 alone.
Laundrie later drove to a nearby nature reserve in Florida about 10 minutes from his parents’ home, where he committed suicide. Investigators recovered what appeared to be a written confession by Laundrie that he murdered Petito.
Members of the Laundrie and Petito families have been questioned in depositions over the past several months as part of the civil case filed against the Laundrie couple in 2022.
In a separate wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Petito’s family, Brian Laundrie’s estate agreed to pay a $3 million settlement last year.
[Feature Photo: Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie/Instagram]
Additional reporting by Jonathan Anderson