Gabby Petito’s family said that Brian Laundrie, 23, was a typical parent-approved boyfriend before their daughter disappeared whilst on a hiking trip with him.
“He just seemed like a nice guy,” said Nichole Schmidt, mother of Petito, whose autopsy earlier this week said she died of manual strangulation, in an interview with 60 Minutes Australia premiered Sunday, Oct. 17.
When Petito was about to begin her cross country trip in July, Nichole Schmidt was anxious. Still, she rested assured that her daughter was accompanied by Laundrie, a seemingly trusted person with the family back then.
“But I felt safe because she was with Brian and I felt like she would be OK. I thought he would take care of her,” the grieving mother said.
Laundrie came back home alone on Sept. 1 in Petito’s white van. He disappeared several days before officials located her corpse in a national Wyoming park on Sept. 19. Her death was ruled a homicide.
The mother of the young woman said Laundrie did not exhibit any signs to be concerned about.
“He was very polite and quiet. He’d draw them pictures and stuff. He would read books to my little one at night before bed,” she described. “So, he just seemed like a nice guy.”
Jim Schmidt, the stepfather of Petito, added he was a person well-liked by the kids.
“Every time he would come over he was polite,” he said. “He’d talk with our other children as well. They got to know him and they liked him.”
Social media updates also demonstrated a happy couple, always smiling.
But as the biological father of the 22-year-old noted, the case has revealed that some of the smiles may have hidden another side to the relationship.
“She did look happy,” the young woman’s father, Joe Petito, said. “But as we look more and more into this, it might not have been as great as people online perceived.”
During the final weeks of Petito’s life, the pair had been in intense conflict. Cops were summoned to them in Utah following a 911 call that alleged Laundrie was violent towards Petito.
Bodycam footage showed Petito declined to admit she was being threatened by her fiance while admitting she had tried to scratch him.
Authorities have not charged Laundrie for the death of his girlfriend, and he remains the only person of interest in her case.