Who is Gabby Petito's mother? Nicole Schmidt pleads 'we need to find her'
On September 13, the parents of missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito opened up about their fears in a teary-eyed interview. "We are looking for her... I believe she's gonna come home," Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt told reporters at a conference in Bohemia, Suffolk County. Schmidt and Petito's stepfather Joe have urged everyone to chip in and help find their daughter, who they last heard from on August 25.
As we previously reported, Petito had gone on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. She last FaceTimed her mother from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, after which she has been missing. Laundrie, who since returned home to Florida has lawyered up and refused to cooperate with police, or take questions from the press. The same day Schmidt gave her first interview about her daughter, British actress Tanya Fear was reported missing from Los Angeles as well.
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At the time, Petito and Laundrie were reportedly on their way to California, to escape the wildfires and made it to Salt Lake City in Utah. She was last seen checking out of a hotel in the city on the 24th, followed by two brief texts to her mother on the 27th and 30th of August. With Laundrie refusing to cooperate, the family have taken it upon themselves to locate Petito and started a GoFundMe to fuel the search.
Who is Nicole Schmidt?
A resident of Blue Point, Long Island, not much is known about Schmidt. She is married to Joe Petito, who is Gabby's stepfather according to reports. While originally from Long Island, Petito reportedly lived in Florida with Laundrie for two years. We could not find a LinkedIn profile, or Facebook account directly linked to Schmidt. She and her husband have set up a Find Gabby Facebook page to share updates and source information.
While the couple has given several brief statements in the past to the press, they held their first news conference on September 13. Schmidt confirmed she and her daughter were quite close, and would talk at least three times a week. "The first couple of days, I believe she was in a place with no service. It was day 8 and 9 that I really became concerned and figured she couldn't be off the grid for that long," Schmidt told reporters.
Schmidt last FaceTimed Petito on August 25, followed by texts over the next week. "I can't comment on that," she said when asked about the texts, and if she believed they were not sent by her daughter. "I don't know if I believe she's in danger for a particular reason, I just believe she's in danger because she's not in touch with us and she could be alone somewhere, she could be stranded somewhere in the wilderness. And she needs help," she added. “We’re not looking for the van,” she said. “We’re not looking for the two of them. We need to find her and bring her home.” Schmidt’s husband, Joe Petito, also sent their daughter a personal message. “Gabby, we just want you to come home,” he said. “Call us. Let us know you’re OK. Come home, please.”
Despite the complete lack of communication, Schmidt still holds out hope for her daughter. "We are looking for her. We are not focusing on anything else, but finding her... I believe she's gonna come home," she told reporters. The Suffolk County Police Department is currently investigating Petito's disappearance, along with help from the FBI's Tampa field office. The parents have also tapped into social media to track reports of sightings.