Gabby Petito’s family sharing more about how they are coping and moving forward

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

The Dr. Phil interview with the family of Gabby Petito continued on Wednesday with the family sharing more details of what they did after learning that Gabby’s remains were found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

“The hardest thing was once they found her not being able to take her home right away,” said Jim Schmidt, Gabby’s stepdad.

A painful par for the course. Part of what is now an ongoing homicide investigation.
But Gabby’s stepdad told Dr. Phil that he couldn’t sit and do nothing. So he hiked to the scene and started to collect rocks.”It was exactly where they found her. So, I laid the cross directly over where her torso was. I was told the direction in which her head was laying that’s where I placed two flowers in the ground right where her head was.”

Through tears, Gabby’s mom Nichole Schmidt said, “I gave him a lot of credit for doing that. I don’t know if I could do that.”

Gabby’s stepdad shared a photo of the cross with the family. The photo serves as a reminder that Gabby’s body is “gone,” but gives the family hope that her soul still lives. Schmidt said, “as I was placing the rocks, a chipmunk sat at the edge of the cross, just sat there, didn’t move while I sat there and placed the rocks. I kind of went back and thought maybe that was Gabby with me.”

Gabby’s family told Dr. Phil they see Gabby through ‘signs’ all the time. In license plates that spell out “Gabz,” in butterflies and in a rainbow.

Jim Schmidt said teams had to temporarily call off the search for Gabby because of weather on September 18. Then he said everyone saw a rainbow and believed it was a sign they’d find Gabby the next day. Gabby was found the next day on the 19th, Schmidt said, in the area right under where this rainbow stopped.

The family also spoke about the body camera video and 911 call surrounding the fight that happened between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie before she went missing.

“I didn’t listen to the whole call, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it,” said Joseph Petito, Gabby’s biological father.

In his exclusive interview with the Petito and Schmidt families, Dr. Phil didn’t shy away from talking about what he saw in the video and heard on the 911 call; warning signs of domestic violence. “It’s not red flags, it’s like a navy flagman just waving a huge flag, waving this back and forth when you see her blaming herself and trying to make excuses for him.”

Gabby’s dad told Dr. Phil her story is already saving young women who watched that video and listened to that call. “We got emails from people in bad relationships inspired by Gabby.”

The Schmidt’s and the Petito’s are looking for purpose and positivity. They say they don’t just want to be angry. And when asked about the search for Brian, Gabby’s dad Joseph Petito said, “I just really hope they find him.”

Another way Gabby’s family is trying to get past that anger is by launching the Gabby Petito Foundation, which will focus on helping victims of domestic violence and families with missing loved ones. You can find a link to their website here.

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