Oct 17, 2021
Gabby Petito Family Interview 60 Minutes Australia Transcript
Gabby Petito’s family was interviewed by 60 Minutes Australia on October 17, 2021. Read the transcript of the interview here.
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Sarah Abo: (00:00)
The disappearance and murder of Gabby Petito, and the ongoing mystery surrounding the whereabouts of her fiance, Brian Laundrie, have been making headlines for more than a month. It’s a crime that remains just as inconceivable now as when we first heard about it. How could a carefree young couple’s adventure traveling across the United States spiral so far out of control? And why wasn’t more done to protect Gabby when there were such obvious signs she was in danger?
Sarah Abo: (00:31)
Tonight, her heartbroken parents speak about their love for their precious daughter and their mission to find out what really happened to her.
Nicole Schmidt: (00:48)
Nobody expects anything like this to happen, let alone the attention that it’s gotten. It’s very surreal. It’s almost like you’re outside looking in. It doesn’t even feel like it’s you.
Sarah Abo: (01:00)
In a way, the whole world has come to know your daughter, Gabby. Does that give you some comfort?
Jim Schmidt: (01:07)
Yes, she was beautiful. She was creative, artistic, talented, a genuine person. And we all loved her so much.
Sarah Abo: (01:22)
It’s not easy facing the world when you are inconsolable.
Jim Schmidt: (01:27)
Everybody sees the pictures of her out there as an adult, but when I close my eyes and I think of her, I still remember that little blonde hair, bright blue eyed little girl with her hair up in ponytails, and always smiling no matter what.
Sarah Abo: (01:45)
Gabby Petito’s family, her dad, Joe, mom, Nicole, and stepfather, Jim, want everyone to know how wonderful she was.
Sarah Abo: (01:55)
What was Gabby like growing up?
Nicole Schmidt: (01:57)
A spitfire. She did a lot. She was very busy. She loved her friends. She was a beautiful artist, a brilliant artist. Just so talented.
Joe Petito: (02:10)
She was happy. Genuinely happy. She’s like, “Yeah, come on. Let me show you this.” She’d want to take you. “Let’s go. Jump in the car. Let’s just go for ride. We’ll check it out. We’ll go to the beach. Just listen to the ocean. Look at the waves. Look at the sand. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset.”
Gabby Petito: (02:29)
Gabby Petito never goes outside.
Sarah Abo: (02:32)
By all accounts, 22 year old Gabby loved Brian Laundrie as much as she loved life. The couple met at high school, but their relationship got serious after they graduated it. Last year, Brian asked Gabby to marry him.
Nicole Schmidt: (02:48)
It happened pretty quickly. He was very polite and quiet.
Jim Schmidt: (02:53)
Every time he would come over, he was polite. He talked with our other children as well. You know, they got to know him and they liked him.
Nicole Schmidt: (03:01)
Draw them pictures and stuff. He would read books to my little one at night before bed. So, he just seemed like a nice guy.
Sarah Abo: (03:10)
As well as a life together, Gabby and Brian dreamed of adventure. In early July, they quit their jobs, loaded up their little van and hit the road. Their plan was a trip across the United States, sharing their fun with anyone who wanted to follow them on social media.
Gabby Petito: (03:27)
You can’t keep chocolate in-
Joe Petito: (03:28)
She always wanted to do this. She planned it out. She knew what she wanted to do, and she knew where she wanted to go. So, she had a really good plan.
Sarah Abo: (03:39)
As parents, did you have any concerns about this trip?
Nicole Schmidt: (03:43)
Oh, of course, I worried. I told her to be careful, be safe, make sure to be aware of your surroundings, don’t trust everybody. But I felt safe because she was with Brian, and I felt like she would be okay. I think I thought he would take care of her.
Sarah Abo: (04:07)
To begin with, their journey was picture perfect. A beautiful young couple road-tripping through America, stopping in some of the country’s most breathtaking locations.
Gabby Petito: (04:19)
Brian’s stretching, doing some morning yoga.
Sarah Abo: (04:23)
How often were you in contact with Gabby while her and Brian were traveling?
Nicole Schmidt: (04:27)
I would say, on average, every other day or so. Almost every day. She would text, she would FaceTime, send me pictures of where they were going. I loved getting the updates. I was in awe of what she was doing. It was just amazing.
Sarah Abo: (04:44)
She certainly looked like she was having the time of her life.
Joe Petito: (04:46)
I mean, who wouldn’t on a trip like that? Outside looking in, she did look happy, but as we look more and more into this, it might not have been as great as people online perceived.
Speaker 6: (05:00)
Subjects just hit the curb.
Sarah Abo: (05:03)
Barely a month into their trip, their carefully-crafted social media personas crashed into reality.
Speaker 6: (05:10)
Listen, if I had any discretion of this, I would separate you guys for the day and just give you warnings to stop hitting each other.
Sarah Abo: (05:17)
These were the images the couple didn’t want to share with their followers, being pulled over by police in Utah following a 911 call about a domestic dispute.
Speaker 6: (05:28)
So, there’s two people that came to us and told us that they saw him hit you. There’s two people saying that they saw him punch you.
Gabby Petito: (05:33)
Well, to be honest, I definitely hit him first.
Speaker 6: (05:37)
Did he hit you though? I mean, it’s okay if you’re saying you hit him, and I understand it if he hit you, but we want to know the truth if he actually hit you.
Gabby Petito: (05:43)
I guess, yeah, but I hit him first.
Speaker 6: (05:43)
Where did he hit you? Don’t worry. Be honest.
Gabby Petito: (05:49)
Well, he grabbed my face like this.
Speaker 6: (05:51)
Gabby Petito: (05:51)
I definitely have a cut right here because I can feel it.
Speaker 6: (05:52)
Gabby Petito: (05:59)
When I touch it, it burns.
Sarah Abo: (05:59)
The police officers interviewed Gabby and Brian for more than an hour, recording every distressing detail on their body cameras.
Speaker 6: (06:09)
And then, there’s what you said and what he said, and guess what? It all matches nicely that you were the primary aggressor and that the injuries he has were caused by your aggression.
Speaker 7: (06:18)
… distracting them.
Sarah Abo: (06:18)
The officers discussed the situation among themselves. Ultimately, the police made a controversial call. They decided it was Gabby who’d started the fight, not Brian, and separated the couple for the night.
Speaker 7: (06:34)
But is there a way to not do anything on something like this? I mean, it’s so minor. It’s hard to say, right? In no way, shape, or form that I can perceive does what happened here, a little slap fight between fiances who love each other and want to be together, can I perceive that this is going to digress into the situation where he’s going to be a battered man.
Speaker 7: (06:59)
But then again, I don’t have a crystal ball.
Nicole Schmidt: (07:01)
It’s just hard to watch. I wanted to jump through the screen and rescue her, and it’s a shame that it ended the way it did, but makes me sad.
Sarah Abo: (07:15)
What did you see when you were watching it?
Nicole Schmidt: (07:17)
I saw a young girl that needed someone to just hug her and keep her safe. I just felt so bad for her. I wish that she reached out to me.
Sarah Abo: (07:35)
After spending the night apart, the trip continued. For the next two weeks, the couple’s regular updates on social media showed them seemingly as happy as ever. But then the posts stopped, and so too did the calls home.
Sarah Abo: (07:52)
When did you begin to get worried?
Nicole Schmidt: (07:54)
I was worried, probably, day four and five. I started … I was texting her every day anyway, but I wasn’t getting responses. By day six, seven, I was checking her social media. I didn’t see any activity. And I started calling her dad, and I was talking to Jim about it, and I said, “I think … I’m worried.” And everybody was like, “She’s fine. She’s fine. They’re out in the mountains. They have no signal.” And I said, “No, it’s not like her.
Sarah Abo: (08:25)
When she couldn’t reach Gabby directly, Nicole tried to contact Brian, and then his family, but she got no response. It made her worry something might have happened to both of them.
Sarah Abo: (08:38)
On the 11th of September, after 10 days of silence, Nicole reported Gabby missing. But Brian wasn’t missing. Remarkably, he was at home with his parents and had been for nearly two weeks.
Sarah Abo: (08:55)
When did you find out that he returned without her?
Nicole Schmidt: (08:58)
The night of the 11th, when the detective came to my door to let me know that the van was in Florida with him. She also said that he had obtained a lawyer. I almost fell on the ground because I was just like, “Where is Gabby?” And that was my response to that information. And I just went into shock. I knew something was wrong.
Sarah Abo: (09:25)
The search for Gabby was urgent and intense, and it captured the attention of the US, and then the world. The only people not talking openly about Gabby Petito were Brian Laundrie and his family.
[crosstalk 00:09:39] Laundrie, where’s Gabby? Where’s Gabby?
Sarah Abo: (09:44)
After three weeks searching the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the tragic discovery: Authorities had found Gabby Petito’s body.
Speaker 9: (09:54)
We hereby find the cause and manner of death to be … The cause, death by strangulation, and manner is homicide.
Nicole Schmidt: (10:03)
I just hope that she didn’t suffer and that she wasn’t in any pain.
Jim Schmidt: (10:08)
I’m just hoping that, at that …
Nicole Schmidt: (10:14)
That she was in a place that she wanted to be, looking at the beautiful mountains.
Jim Schmidt: (10:20)
It’s something you never thing is going to … You see it.
Nicole Schmidt: (10:26)
You never, ever think it’s going to be yours. It’s just surreal.
Sarah Abo: (10:33)
Do you remember the last thing you said to her?
Joe Petito: (10:38)
Last thing I said to her, my very last sentence was, “I love you.” And her last sentence to me was, “I love you too.”
Jim Schmidt: (10:43)
Gabby was 22 years old. Her life was stolen from her. She was stolen. She was taken from us.
Nicole Schmidt: (10:52)
This was like … Evil. She was taken, at somebody else’s hand. It’s not fair.
Sarah Abo: (11:06)
Brian Laundrie is now the only person of interest in the investigation into Gabby’s murder, but he continues to evade authorities, and the search to find him becomes more desperate with each passing day.
Lenny DePaul: (11:21)
Brian Laundry’s hiding something. He’s running, and innocent people don’t run.
Sarah Abo: (11:29)
The hunt to find Gabby Petito’s missing fiance, Brian Laundrie, is now in its fifth frustrating week.
Speaker 11: (11:37)
It’s been hot, it’s been humid, and the amount of water that is within this reserve has just made it more and more difficult.
Sarah Abo: (11:45)
The search is centered on the Carlton Reserve in Florida, an area where Brian had previously camped and knew well,
Speaker 11: (11:52)
While someone could survive within this area, they would need to have extensive backcountry skills.
Sarah Abo: (11:59)
He is the only person police are looking for following the discovery of Gabby’s body in Wyoming four weeks ago. The 22 year old had been strangled. Though forensic, the search is moving at an agonizing pace for Gabby’s family.
Sarah Abo: (12:15)
The stress is almost unbearable for mom, Nicole, and stepfather, Jim, whose anger is not only directed at Brian, but the whole Laundrie family.
Sarah Abo: (12:26)
We know that Brian now has been missing himself for a number of weeks.
Jim Schmidt: (12:30)
Sarah Abo: (12:30)
Jim Schmidt: (12:31)
Can we change missing to hiding? Gabby was missing.
Nicole Schmidt: (12:34)
Jim Schmidt: (12:35)
There’s a lot of other people out there that are missing. He’s hiding.
Nicole Schmidt: (12:39)
Jim Schmidt: (12:41)
We were up every day and every night until we found Gabby. Are the people that love him doing the same thing for him?
Nicole Schmidt: (12:48)
Jim Schmidt: (12:49)
And why not? Because if they were, maybe he would be found by now.
Lenny DePaul: (12:57)
Brian Laundrie has gone dark. I mean he’s off-the-grid. Law enforcement is chasing a ghost. Right now, human instincts have turned into animal instincts. I mean, he’s completely shut down no matter where he is.
Sarah Abo: (13:10)
Lenny DePaul is a retired US Marshall who spent decades hunting down dangerous fugitives. Like millions across the globe, he’s been watching this case intently, and he’s also puzzled by the silence from Brian’s parents.
Sarah Abo: (13:25)
Well, even to the broader public, there’s a lot about this case that doesn’t add up.
Lenny DePaul: (13:29)
Sarah Abo: (13:30)
Do you think Brian’s parents are helping him?
Lenny DePaul: (13:33)
I think Brian’s parents did help him. Gabby lived in Florida with them. They got engaged. He shows up in the van without her. What does he tell his parents? “Oh, we broke up. I left her out there. I just decided to drive the van back home. Let’s go camping.” It just doesn’t make sense.
Sarah Abo: (13:52)
While Gabby’s family has done everything possible to help the investigation the same can’t be said for Brian’s family.
Speaker 12: (14:00)
Was your son involved in strangling Gabby?
Sarah Abo: (14:03)
As the search for their son intensified, Chris and Roberta Laundrie seemed disinterested, going about their lives as if nothing had happened.
Sarah Abo: (14:13)
It took some serious urging from the FBI for Chris to even show investigators the areas where his son liked to camp. But so far, not even that information has helped.
Sarah Abo: (14:26)
What do you make of the deafening silence from the Laundrie family?
Nicole Schmidt: (14:30)
I think silence speaks volumes, because I believe they know, probably if not everything, they know most of the information. I would love to just face-to-face ask, “Why are you doing this?” And, “Just tell me the truth.”
Sarah Abo: (14:52)
Gabby’s father, Joe, agrees.
Sarah Abo: (14:55)
Can you make sense of what the Laundrie family has done here, not communicating with you about your cherish daughter? Can you make sense of that?
Joe Petito: (15:04)
Personally, can I make sense to it? No. You know, in terms of my own feelings, no.
Sarah Abo: (15:11)
Gabby was living with them. She was going to be their daughter-in-law.
Joe Petito: (15:14)
Yeah. You’d think there’d be some conversations. If Brian was staying at my house, and Gabby returned to my house without him, in his vehicle, I’d be on the phone with their parents saying, “Listen, we got an issue. We got some stuff we got to talk about now. Call me back.” That’d be me.
Sarah Abo: (15:36)
I mean, it’s cruel. It’s just cruel.
Joe Petito: (15:39)
It’s torturous. If they do know something and they’re withholding that, and they don’t want to let us know, then yeah, that’s cruel. And if you don’t know, and you’re still not saying something, still cruel. And that is my opinion.
Speaker 13: (15:58)
We want to know what the hell-
Speaker 14: (15:58)
No, no, no, ah! Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh.
Sarah Abo: (15:59)
While Chris and Roberta Laundrie have shed no light on what they know about Gabby’s murder, Brian’s sister, Cassie, has spoken out, no longer able to deal with the mounting pressure from the public.
Cassie Laundrie: (16:12)
I don’t know.
Speaker 14: (16:13)
Do you think they’re involved, your parents?
Cassie Laundrie: (16:14)
I don’t know!
Sarah Abo: (16:15)
She revealed something remarkable, the family went camping just days after Brian returned home without Gabby, but even more incredibly, denied his fiance’s absence was ever discussed.
Sarah Abo: (16:30)
And knowing what you know now, what do you think about Brian disappearing?
Nicole Schmidt: (16:38)
He’s a coward, and I don’t want to say he’s insane or anything because he-
Jim Schmidt: (16:48)
Consciously knows what he’s doing.
Nicole Schmidt: (16:50)
He went home, he’s hiding. He used her credit card. I mean, that’s not somebody that’s gone crazy. That’s like he knows what he’s doing, he knew what he was doing.
Sarah Abo: (17:04)
It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Former US Marshall, Lenny DePaul, says that something always gives fugitives away, especially for someone like Brian, who’s shared so much of his life on social media. He’s confident Gabby’s family will soon have the answers they deserve.
Lenny DePaul: (17:23)
I’ve seen it all. He is not a career criminal. He doesn’t know how to play fugitive, as I would say. So, he’s got it rough out there, wherever he is.
Lenny DePaul: (17:31)
I think he’s scared. He’s definitely sleeping with one eye open, and it’s a matter of time. I always say, “You can run, but you can’t hide. And when you run, you only go to jail tired.”
Sarah Abo: (17:41)
How damaging is this time on the run for Brian?
Lenny DePaul: (17:44)
Innocent people don’t run, and Brian’s sending a message to God and everybody that he may be the number one suspect in this case.
Sarah Abo: (17:54)
What does justice look like for you?
Nicole Schmidt: (17:59)
That’s a hard question. I just want to get him in a cell for the rest of his life.
Jim Schmidt: (18:06)
We want vengeance and him to be-
Nicole Schmidt: (18:10)
Jim Schmidt: (18:11)
And justice. And for him to pay for his crimes and to spend it at a prison for the rest of his life.
Sarah Abo: (18:25)
While Gabby’s family grieves her loss, there’s some comfort knowing the rest of the world has gotten to know their daughter. They’ve started the Gabby Petito Foundation, and want to use the recognition to help other women escape domestic violence before it’s too late.
Nicole Schmidt: (18:43)
We won’t stop until people get help and changes are made to help others. There’s a big need for a lot of things, and we hope that we can help out with that.
Joe Petito: (18:59)
How many missing children or all colors, of all races, of all genders, go missing that don’t have this type of social media explosion? I’m fortunate that it did. I’m very humbled that it did. But what type of person would I be if I wasted it and not engage in a conversation that’s going to make a difference? So, there has to have change. There has to be meaning behind it.
Sarah Abo: (19:29)
What will Gabby’s legacy be?
Joe Petito: (19:31)
That she made a difference, that people saw a beautiful soul and she had an impact that changed the lives of a lot of people and the world to a better place. There’s no more amazing legacy you could have.