Sep 28, 2021
Gabby Petito Family Press Conference Transcript September 28
The family of Gabby Petito held a press conference on September 28, 2021 as the FBI manhunt for Brian Laundrie continues. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Do you want to come on this side?
Joe Petito: (00:00)
Yeah, all right.
Good afternoon. From the moment Nicole called to report that Gabby was missing, the worst fears of any parent played out before our eyes. That nightmare became a reality when the Grand Teton Search and Rescue Team located their beautiful daughter. During that time, they had an outpouring of love and affection and sympathy from not just their family and friends, but from the law enforcement community, the press, and from people around the world; and for that, they thank you. They’ve been given the time and the space to grieve this awful loss, and we ask that you continue to respect their privacy and give them the space and time to go through this difficult process.
Gabby Petito was a beautiful woman. Her infectious smile and love of life made people gravitate to her. Gabby Petito loved life, loved people and loved experiences. She was the bright light in everyone’s life that knew her. Gabby’s family does not want that light to dim and they want to make some good from this awful tragedy. That’s why they’re starting the Gabby Petito Foundation.
I’m joined today with Joe and Tara Petito, with Jim and Nicole Schmidt and a close friend Gary Ryder. They’re going to make some statements and after that we’re going to take some questions.
Nicole Schmidt: (02:16)
[inaudible 00:02:16] statements.
Joe Petito: (02:18)
No? Go ahead.
Jim Schmidt: (02:18)
Jim Schmidt: (02:22)
I just wanted to say thank you to everybody that we encountered out west in Wyoming, all of the law enforcement agencies out there and across the country for doing an amazing job with locating Gabby. Especially want to thank the Teton County Search and Rescue Team who is a all-volunteer agency that come together, that are highly trained and they were a part of that mission to find Gabby. They did an unbelievable job. We’re so grateful for everybody out there. They were second to none. They were unbelievable. We are forever grateful for that. Everybody back home who helped us as well, it was amazing that we were able to get her. We’re just happy to have her.
Joe Petito: (03:12)
How you doing? I’d actually like to thank all you guys. All right. Ladies and gentleman of the media, press, especially the people that are behind the camera. All right? They don’t get enough credit for what it is that they do. I do appreciate all of them. Social media has been amazing. I’d just like to thank everyone for that. It is greatly appreciated that was very helpful in bringing our daughter home. Thank you very much.
Nicole Schmidt: (03:47)
I don’t think we can thank everybody enough. I really want to thank the Aware Foundation and We Help the missing for putting her poster out there. It reached over two million people within 48 hours. It was all over the world. I especially want to thank Detective Tracy Berry of the fifth precinct here in Patchogue, because without her, we don’t know when this would have even happened. She got the ball rolling. She’s my angel, and I thank her for the most. Thank you.
At this time, we’ll be taking questions.
Dasha Burns: (04:27)
Dasha Burns, NBC News.
Dasha Burns: (04:29)
The hashtag Justice For Gabby has been trending to imagine how much social media has been helpful in locating her and in this investigation. What does justice for Gabby look like from here?
Do you want me to answer that?
Joe Petito: (04:41)
Justice for Gabby is that we see justice for her homicide. The FBI has classified her death a homicide. They are the premier agency in the country. They’re investigating her death and we believe through their investigation we will have justice for Gabby.
Speaker 6: (05:02)
Speaker 6: (05:03)
We haven’t heard from the Laundrie family. We haven’t been able to hear much from the FBI. They can’t share a lot with us about Brian’s whereabouts. Is there anything that you can tell us about the efforts to find him, what the family thinks about where he might be and the Laundrie family’s silence.
Again, for the Laundries’ silence, the Laundries did not help us find Gabby. They sure is not going to help us find Brian. For Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency.
Speaker 7: (05:39)
Yesterday, the Laundrie family released a statement saying that Mr. and Mrs. Laundrie are not helping Brian getaway and hide. Do you believe them?
That’s for the FBI to investigate. I believe that they’re the preeminent law enforcement organization in this country, and I know they’re investigating all avenues of this case.
Trevor Alt: (06:04)
Rick? Trevor Alt from ABC.
Trevor Alt: (06:06)
You’ve touched on trusting the FBI here. Does it bother the family at all that Brian Laundrie’s still not named as a suspect in Gabby’s disappearance?
The parents are 100% happy with the FBI. They’ve been with us at every single step of the way. We know that they will bring justice for Gabby.
Speaker 9: (06:25)
[crosstalk 00:06:25] from CNN.
Speaker 9: (06:27)
Can you or the family talk at all about or describe what kind of contact you’ve had with the Laundrie family since early September and what your previous relationship was like with that family while Gabby and Brian Laundrie [inaudible 00:06:40]? Any sort of insight you can give us into [inaudible 00:06:42]
We’re not going to talk about the relationship between the Petito, the Schmidt and the Laundrie family. The Petito and Schmidt family have spoken with the FBI and they’ve requested that we don’t discuss any relationship between Gabby, between Brian or between the three families.
Speaker 10: (07:03)
[crosstalk 00:07:03] the foundation. You don’t want her light to go dim, so what will the foundation do to keep that, her light shining?
Speaker 11: (07:12)
Joe, you want to talk about it? [inaudible 00:07:15]
Joe Petito: (07:17)
Go ahead. All you, man.
Jim Schmidt: (07:18)
We’re just hoping that through our tragedy, with losing Gabby, that in the future, that some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in a similar situation, reach out to these other organizations that do similar things and find out what’s missing. What can we do to fill that void? What can we do to help people? Just from the Aware Foundation alone and reaching two million people, they told us that other law enforcement agencies are now starting to look back at other missing persons cases and starting to reinvestigate them and look into them. We’re just hopeful that we’re able to help people in the future just try to get through something similar.
Speaker 12: (08:04)
In the vein of not letting her light grow dim, I noticed Mom and Dad have some new tattoos that resemble that of Gabby. Would you be willing to tell us about that?
Jim Schmidt: (08:14)
Yeah. These were tattoos that Gabby designed herself. She was an artist and …
Nicole Schmidt: (08:19)
I wanted to have her with me all the time.
Jim Schmidt: (08:22)
Nicole Schmidt: (08:22)
I feel it. This helps that.
Jim Schmidt: (08:24)
We all put them.
Speaker 13: (08:31)
Can you show us?
Speaker 14: (08:32)
Everybody has one?
Joe Petito: (08:32)
Darn right we do.
Speaker 13: (08:32)
Can you tell us what they say?
Joe Petito: (08:33)
Let it be.
Jim Schmidt: (08:34)
Let it be.
Nicole Schmidt: (08:35)
Speaker 15: (08:36)
Can you hold it up in the air?
Joe Petito: (08:39)
Speaker 14: (08:40)
You said Gabby designed those?
Nicole Schmidt: (08:42)
Gabby drew this one.
Jim Schmidt: (08:43)
Joe Petito: (08:43)
Listen, here’s the end all, right? We need positive stuff to come from the tragedy that happened. All right? We can’t let her name be taken in vain. We need positive stuff. All right? Anything that we can do to bring that up and help people, that’s what we want to do.
Speaker 16: (09:05)
Joe, do you think Brian’s still alive?
Joe Petito: (09:07)
I’m not going to talk about Brian.
Speaker 17: (09:10)
[crosstalk 00:09:10] is it just about the community coming together? We’ve been at the memorial almost every day, and you have people coming from all over Long Island, from Montauk to the West End, because they all say they felt such a connection to Gabby. Somebody said she reminds him of her son, and things like that. What does that mean to you that she’s just drawn emotions from so many people over the country. I mean, I’m sure in your Blue Point community with the candles being lit. Can you just step up and possibly respond to that outpouring and what it’s meant to you?
Nicole Schmidt: (09:39)
I don’t know how to respond to that. I just hope that people are inspired by her. It’s hard to put into words, but it means a lot to me that she’s touched so many lives already, and it’s only two weeks into it. I’m so proud of her for doing this. We’re going to keep it going, like you said, keep the light going and help a lot of people if we can.
Speaker 17: (10:03)
Will the foundation just be for missing children or missing adults as well? I think it said children, but I didn’t know-
We’re still working out. Again, this has only been a few days, so we’re still working that out. We want to help in any way we can. I just want to add to the last question that we’ve received letters, emails, cards from all over the world. From Australia, from Europe. We had people from Italy. We had people at the funeral that came from as far away as Texas, as Florida, as California. People from all over the country have called and sent their well-wishes.
Speaker 18: (10:44)
Speaker 18: (10:44)
Can you confirm that the fraudulent activity Brian’s being charged with, was that Gabby’s card that he was using?
That’s something you’re going to have to talk to the FBI about. That I know that they have unsealed and indictment, so I believe they would be the best agency to deal with that.
Speaker 19: (11:01)
Just a question for Joe. Joe, you mentioned social media. Can you tell me, do you feel obviously that the outpouring of people all across the world with tips coming in that social media helped find Gabby? How do you feel knowing that she was someone who wanted, she was in social media, the video she made, everything else.
Joe Petito: (11:22)
I don’t want to dismiss the ridiculously hard work that the FBI and law enforcement all around did, but social media has been amazing and very influential. To be honest, it should continue for other people too. This same type of heightened awareness should be continued for everyone. Everyone. That goes for you all too.
Speaker 20: (11:46)
Joe, your words at the memorial service were very touching to many people. I’m wondering if you’ve heard from people who heard your words about being inspired by Gabby’s life and also leaving bad relationships?
Joe Petito: (12:03)
Yeah. You know what? Why don’t you do that.
Again, we’ve received messages from individuals on many issues since we started the foundation. There were some that were really personal, and at this point we’re not going to get into that.
Speaker 21: (12:22)
Has the family spoken with Jen Bethune, the woman who took the video of the van?
We’ve spoken with numerous people that gave tips to the FBI and to us.
Speaker 21: (12:33)
They have spoken with Jen Bethune?
I believe they have.
Speaker 21: (12:36)
Speaker 22: (12:36)
What do you make of people like Dog the Bounty Hunter and John Walsh getting involved in looking for Brian Laundrie?
Again, just like we asked for help to look from everyone that if they see Brian Laundrie or any information on that, we’re asking that they call the local law enforcement or the FBI. We welcome everybody’s help to find him. If you have any information, we’re asking that you call the FBI tip line or your local police department. We’ll take help from everybody.
Speaker 23: (13:08)
What’s the plans for her remains? Has FBI Denver contacted you about timing or when that might [inaudible 00:13:16]?
Do you want to talk about it? You want to talk about it? Do you want to do it?
Jim Schmidt: (13:20)
I’ll talk about it.
Jim Schmidt: (13:28)
Part of our goal was we wanted to bring her home as quickly as possible, but it’s important for the FBI, the Teton County sheriff’s, the Teton County coroner’s office to hold onto her for as long as they need. We want to make sure that no matter what we do not impede their investigation in any way. We wanted her home immediately, but we understand their position and we know that she’s safe with them and as long as she’s with them. It was a very tough decision to have to make, to come home, but we felt it was important to come home so we could mourn her and celebrate her life and be with our family and friends. When they’re ready to release her, we will be bringing her home.
Speaker 24: (14:19)
Have you gotten any of her things back from Florida?
Jim Schmidt: (14:22)
Speaker 25: (14:24)
Jim and Joe, you guys made a plea to the world, to the country, the world, to help lead you to Gabby and help you find Gabby. Do you have a similar plea for the world to help you find Brian?
Joe Petito: (14:39)
I want to ask everyone to help all of the people that are missing and need help. Like I said before, it’s on all of you, everyone that’s in this room, to do that. If you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame because it’s not just Gabby that deserves that. Look to yourselves on why not that’s not being done.
Jim Schmidt: (15:07)
And with Brian, our focus is still on mourning Gabby and honoring Gabby. The FBI is doing everything they can and we have our full faith in them.
Speaker 26: (15:24)
Can you say anything about what your understanding is of what was going on between September 1st and September 11th? Is that something you’d be able to talk about?
Speaker 11: (15:33)
No. No, we’re not going to comment on that. That’s part of the investigation at this point.
Speaker 27: (15:37)
Can we get a shot of the four parents again with your tattoos? Just all together.
Speaker 28: (15:42)
Oh, yeah. Sure.
Speaker 27: (15:44)
Maybe [crosstalk 00:15:46] Sorry.
Joe Petito: (15:47)
That’s all right. In front of the mics? There’s a lot of wires.
Speaker 27: (15:50)
Speaker 29: (15:55)
When did you have these done?
Joe Petito: (15:57)
We all had them done last night.
Speaker 29: (15:58)
Joe Petito: (16:01)
We all did it together. Like you said, we’ve always, co-parented Gabby together and that’s not going to stop now. We’re in this together.
Speaker 29: (16:07)
Three of them say “Let It Be” and then mom yours says?
Joe Petito: (16:11)
Mom has “Let It Be,” as well.
Speaker 29: (16:11)
I’m sorry. Is that Gabby’s handwriting? Or is it just …
Joe Petito: (16:15)
This is the way she had it written.
Speaker 29: (16:17)
That’s the way she had it on her arm?
Joe Petito: (16:18)
Yeah. We all did it.
Speaker 30: (16:21)
Speaker 30: (16:21)
The one on your arm.
Speaker 29: (16:25)
Did you always have that line on your finger or did you …
Joe Petito: (16:28)
Gabby had that line.
Speaker 29: (16:28)
And you got that?
Joe Petito: (16:28)
Speaker 31: (16:28)
Recently or …
Joe Petito: (16:28)
I got that last night too.
Joe Petito: (16:43)
Joe Petito: (16:44)
Thank you. You guys have been great. I appreciate every one of you and all the people, like I said, that are behind the cameras that don’t get the credit. You guys were instrumental, but everyone deserves the same type of awareness and the same type of stuff. Thank you all.
Joe Petito: (17:01)
We’re good? We’re good.
Speaker 32: (17:04)
Speaker 33: (17:05)
Just have one question over here, what’s next?
Speaker 32: (17:11)
Nicole Schmidt: (17:16)
We don’t stop.
Jim Schmidt: (17:17)
Yeah, we don’t stop remembering Gabby and keeping her name out there and fighting for other people out there like her. She’s always with us. Every day she’s giving us signs. It’s difficult. We’ve been talking, like where do you go from here? How do you go back to normal? Whatever normal may be from here on out. But we have each other. We’re a big family. We have a huge support network and we’re just going to keep pushing forward and living every day and loving every day, because that’s what Gabby did and that’s what we need to do.
Speaker 34: (17:55)
A lot of people would very angry right now. Do you at some level have anger or is it just not happening yet?
Jim Schmidt: (18:08)
We go through our bouts. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. There’s ups and downs. Days that were full of pain and grief. Sometimes angry. But you stop, you take a breath, remember Gabby and all the great times we had with her and all the good memories and all the good things we want to do in her name in the future. That’s what picks you up, that’s what carries you through, and hopefully will keep us going from here on out.
Speaker 35: (18:38)
Jim what kind of signs has she been giving you? Can you just step up a little bit for me. Thanks.
Nicole Schmidt: (18:43)
Wait. We actually got behind a car yesterday and there was a Wyoming sticker and the letters were GBZ.
Jim Schmidt: (18:52)
Nicole Schmidt: (18:55)
It was Gabs. She’s with us. She’s with us.
Jim Schmidt: (19:00)
She’s with us. She’s with us.
Joe Petito: (19:00)
All right. I think we’re good.
Jim Schmidt: (19:02)
The signs are there. You just have to look for them.
Joe Petito: (19:03)
Thank you all.
Nicole Schmidt: (19:03)
Thank you all so much.
Joe Petito: (19:05)
Speaker 35: (19:06)