Gabby Petito e Brian Laundrie erano fidanzati del liceo. Si sono fidanzati nel 2020 e hanno deciso di intraprendere un viaggio di quattro mesi prima di sposarsi. Hanno preparato il furgone e sono partiti nel luglio 2021. La gente di Petito era sicura che la loro figlia sarebbe stata al sicuro con il suo fidanzato per il viaggio. I suoi genitori hanno descritto Laundrie come un “ragazzo educato” e “simpatico” che piaceva a tutti. “Sentivo che sarebbe stata bene. Ho pensato che si sarebbe preso cura di lei”, ha detto la mamma Nicole Schmidt a “60 Minutes”.

On August 30, Schmidt received a strange text supposedly from her daughter, but she believed was written by someone else. Two days later, Laundrie returned to his parents' home all alone. A manhunt for Petito began on September 11, and Laundrie disappeared six days later. Petito's body was found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 19; she'd been strangled. On October 20, Laundrie's remains were discovered in a Florida swamp. He'd taken his own life. As the tragedy sunk in, a bitter legal battle broke out between the grieving parents. The latest court update includes a judge completely lashing out at Laundrie's family.

The judge called Brian Laundrie's family 'callous and cruel'

When Brian Laundrie returned home solo, his family went into lockdown. They refused to speak with the cops or Gabby Petito's family. However, attorney Patrick Reilly released a statement on the Laundries' behalf in September 2021. "We hope that the search is successful and Miss Petito is reunited with her family," it read in part, per BayNews 9. In January 2022, the FBI revealed that Laundrie admitted to murdering Petito in a journal discovered next to his body.

Laundrie's notebook confession, which was released in June, insisted he'd acted in kindness after Petito injured herself. "I ended her life. I thought it was merciful that it is what she wanted, but now I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock," he claimed (via NBC). Petito's family sued the Laundries, alleging they knew about the murder and withheld information during the search for their daughter. They demanded $30,000 for emotional pain and suffering caused.

Reilly filed a motion to dismiss the Petito family's lawsuit, claiming their case was baseless. Per People, the attorney argued that under the first and fifth amendments, his clients had been under no obligation to speak. Judge Hunter Carroll agreed, but ruled that their September 2021 statement relinquished those rights. "Had the Laundries truly stayed silent, the court would have granted the motion to dismiss in the Laundries favor. But they did not stay silent," he said, calling the family's actions "particularly callous and cruel."

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