Gabby Petito's stepdad joins search team in Wyoming, asks Brian Laundrie to talk to cops
As the disappearance case of a Long Island woman, named Gabby Petito, is getting complicated day by day, his stepfather has decided to take matters into his own hands and moved towards Wyoming to join the search operations. The 22-year-old was reported missing on September 11 by her mother after spoke to her mum on August 25. Also, the last known location of Gabby was Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park in late August.
Her stepdad, James Schmidt, former fire chief for the Blue Point Fire Department, has reportedly traveled to the state to bring her back. He arrived out West to help police in finding the young woman, who was on a cross country trip in a converted van with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. She was expected to be back around Halloween, but when for several days she did not contact her family, they became worried and filed a missing person report in Suffolk County, New York.
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Gabby’s mother Nicole Schmidt, told The New York Post about her husband, “He’s not leaving until he brings Gabby home. Now we have eyes, ears, feet on the ground … in both her home states and where she was last seen.”
Also, on Wednesday, September 15, after Brian was named a person of interest in the case by investigators, James said: “We were made aware of that earlier today. He was with her, so he has to know something.” He also went on to make a direct appeal to the young man and his family by saying, “Our family's aware of the statements made by his attorney. It's unacceptable. It is unacceptable to us. We deserve more. Gabby deserves more information out there. She deserves to be found and brought home safe. And we need you to step up and do the right thing.”
He told DailyMail.com at Grand Teton National Park, “I understand a parent's wishes are to always protect their children, no matter what. I understand that. But it's also about teaching your children the right thing and doing the right thing, no matter what the circumstances are. Whatever may have transpired or didn't transpire, they need to come forward and start speaking to law enforcement agencies and be forthcoming with information. The longer they don't, the longer it's going to take to bring her home. And we need her home now. So, they have to. It's not a matter of sit back. They have to come forward, for Gabby, for everyone.”
About the search operations, James said, “This is where she was last known to be going. She was traveling through the west out here, from Colorado to Utah, up through the Grand Teton region. We felt we needed a presence here, to let people know we're here and we want to find Gabby and bring her home. Since we got here, we've been basically working almost around the clock trying to gather information and let it be known that we're out here and that we're looking for her. I spoke to one law enforcement official. We're really just here to support them in their investigation. We don't want to interfere and hinder anything that they have, but we just want to show that we're here for them and available for them at a moment's notice for any questions or anything they may need.”
The stepfather noted: “I don't want to talk about fears. Our hopes are that she's somewhere out here safe, that someone will see her or find her, and that we'll get her and get her home safe to us, to her family,” before making an appeal to the public: “If you were out in this area, if you been out here in this timeframe and have pictures or video, please go back and see if there's anything in there where you may have seen here. And call the tip line. All that information's going to help us.”
Meanwhile, Gabby’s boyfriend and his family have refused to directly help authorities with the case. Instead, they have hired a lawyer, Steve Bertolino, who is representing them and also issued a statement on their behalf. The statement read, “This is an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family. I understand that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.”
“On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment,” it added.
But the young woman’s family criticized Laundrie’s family approach and said, “The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives. Their beautiful 22-year-old daughter is missing and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help. Brian is refusing to tell Gabby's family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida.”
They also pleaded with Brian, who was once Gabby’s fiancé, for his direct aid in finding her. “The Schmidt and Petito family beg the Laundrie family to not 'remain in the background' but to help find who Brian referred to as the love of his life. How does Brian stay in the background when he is the one person that knows where Gabby is located? The Schmidt and Petito family implore Brian to come forward and at least tell us if we are looking in the right area,” the heartbroken family added.
In addition, Gabby’s biological father, Joe Petito, also requested authorities and people to help find her. He said, “I want to keep the focus on finding [Gabby]. [Laundrie] doesn’t matter. The van [they were in] doesn’t matter. Don’t focus on the crap, focus on finding her. I can’t implore that enough. All of the crap afterward will sort itself out. Please find her. I beg you.”