Gabby Petito’s parents came clean about the tragic moment they learned their daughter’s remains had been found during a recent episode of Dr. Phil, BizPacReview reported Wednesday.
The grieving parents also touched on the manhunt for Petito’s missing fiancé, Brian Laundrie, and said they believe the “coward” is still alive somewhere.
“She was gone”
Petito disappeared on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie before her body was found in a Wyoming park in September. The Long Island woman’s death was ruled a homicide, according to reports.
It was Jim Schmidt, Petito’s stepfather, who first learned the tragic news of her death. He said he was in a Wyoming hotel conference room on Sept. 19 when the FBI broke the news. He realized his stepdaughter’s remains had been found when agents described her favorite sweatshirt to him.
Schmidt shared the heartbreaking news with his wife, Nichole, who is Petito’s mother, and Petito’s father and stepmom, Joe and Tara, over a conference call.
According to BizPacReview, a tearful Nichole Schmidt said it was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to listen to… But I knew she was gone. As a mom, I knew she was gone.”
As painful as that moment was, Nichole Schmidt said she had been anticipating the worst ever since Petito’s van turned up in Florida, at the Laundries’ home, without Petito. “I didn’t want to admit it, but I felt it the night I found out the van was in Florida on the 11th, I felt in my heart that she was gone,” she said, according to Fox 13 News in Tampa Bay.
Laundrie has been missing for almost a month after he vanished on or before Sept. 13. He is a person of interest in Gabby’s homicide, and there is a warrant for his arrest for debit card fraud after he allegedly stole money from Gabby’s bank account, reports note.
Nichole Schmidt told Dr. Phil host Phil McGraw she wants to “look [Laundrie] in the eyes,” the New York Post reported, while Joe Petito said he wants to see the “coward” spend the rest of his life in jail. “I could use some other words, but I can’t use them on your show. Coward,” Gabby’s father said, according to Fox 13. “Anyone that lived in that house is a coward, and they don’t know how to stand up for their actions.”
In another twist, Laundrie’s dad Chris was said to have joined the search Thursday at a Florida preserve where authorities have been looking for his son.
But the Petito family believes the Laundries are hiding something, and that their son is still alive and in hiding. “Somebody needs to start talking,” Nichole Schmidt said, according to Fox 13. “I do believe they know a lot more information than they are putting out there.”