Gabby Petito’s family said Wednesday they look forward to the day her fugitive boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is nabbed and brought to justice in her death and disappearance.
“I want to look him in the eyes,” the slain Long Island native’s mom, Nichole Schmidt, said on the Dr. Phil show on Wednesday.
Petito’s father had a harsher thought.
“I want to see him in a jail cell the rest of his life where — he’s an outdoorsman — being in that concrete cell that he can’t go see those trees and smell the fresh air like that,” Joe Petito said.
Speaking for the second day on the popular CBS program, the slain 22-year-old’s parents and stepparents joined together to discuss her disappearance and death during a cross-country trip with Laundrie.
They said Gabby would have been thrilled to see their family brought together — literally under the same roof.
“She’d be excited that we’re working together,” Joe Petito said. “We’re doing this together. This is what she wants… She always wanted us to live in a big house together, you know what I mean? She loved all of us.”
They said both families moved into a house together after Petito vanished, bringing both couples and their other children together over their shared grief.
Petito was last seen alive with Laundrie at a Wyoming restaurant on Aug. 27, just days before Laundrie returned home to Florida alone with Petito’s Ford Transit van.
Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 at a campground at the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming nearly a week after Laundrie went missing from his Florida home.
He’s now the subject of a massive manhunt by the FBI.
On Wednesday, her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, recalled visiting the spot where her body was found. He placed a stone cross at the site — and planted two flowers where her head had been.
Witness accounts throughout the ill-fated cross-country trip revealed growing tension between the two, including police bodycam footage after they were pulled over following reports of a domestic incident in Utah on Aug. 12.
Petito’s parents said the footage was difficult to watch — but also “a blessing.”
“I”m glad we got to see that reality because people aren’t what you see on social media,” Nichole Schmidt said. “Even though that police video is hard to watch, I think it was a blessing to see that she’s a real human being and she was in pain.
“And I’m glad that she lived a really good life and she died doing what she loved to do,” she said. “She was out there in nature camping. She lived her dream and I’m glad she got to do that.”
The families have now launched the Gabby Petito Foundation to help find other missing persons and assist victims of domestic violence, they said.
The foundation’s first fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 17 at 89 North Music Venue in Patchogue — and is getting a jump start from Dr. Phil, who is donating $25,000.
Joe Petito said it’s a way to give his daughter’s death meaning by helping others.
“If you gotta hashtag Gabby Petito to bring that story to the top, do it. Do it,” he said. “Do it now. There’s no reason not to. We’re not getting her back but maybe you can get someone back, and that would be awesome.
“And then let me know,” he added, “because that would make me feel better that there’s not a meaningless death for Gabby.”
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