The mother of 22-year-old ‘van-life woman’ Gabby Petito sent her daughter’s boyfriend and his family desperate texts looking for her but was ignored.
Gabby’s mother Nicole Schmidt told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that on September 10 she reached out to Brian and his mother Roberta Laundrie trying to reach her daughter after she had not heard from Gabby since August 25.
‘I texted Brian’s mom that I was trying to get in touch with Gabby. I also texted Brian. I got no replies,’ Schmidt said.
‘I knew something was wrong,’ she said. ‘I felt something was off and I needed to get her reported missing immediately.’
She went to report Gabby missing later that day but police initially blew her off. The next day, she was allowed to file a report with the Suffolk County police department.
Brian’s family have since refused to let authorities interview their son when the van that the couple had traveled in before she disappeared was seized from their property late on Saturday night.
Nicole Schmidt, of Long Island, New York, gave a teary-eyed interview to reporters in Bohemia on Monday afternoon about her daughter Gabby Petitio, who has been missing since August 24. Schmidt tells DailyMail.com that on September 10 she texted Brian and his mother Roberta trying to get in touch with Gabby, but neither replied
Gabby set out on a cross-country trip July 2 with boyfriend Brian Laundrie in the couple’s 2012 Ford Transit van. Brian posted this photo of the couple on Instagram on July 16 at Zion National Park
The gloves are off: Schmidt and Petito want answers
The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives. Their beautiful twenty-two year old daughter is missing and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help. Brian Laundrie was traveling with Gabby in the Grand Teton – Yellowstone area. They were traveling together in Gabby’s 2012 Ford Transit van. That is where we believe Gabby was last seen.
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. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.
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.
Schmidt said Brian’s sister Cassie is the only member of Brian’s family who has spoken to authorities.
She said she can’t understand why neither Brian nor his parents have reached out to her in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance.
‘It’s a very mysterious situation. We don’t understand why he’s doing this. Everybody’s assuming the worst and thinking he’s guilty of this. But I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe she’s just in need of help out there and that everybody needs to keep searching.’
Schmidt described how Brian’s parents had been warm and welcoming to Gabby during their relationship. She recalled a time when his mother even knitted her future daughter-in-law gifts for Christmas.
‘She loved her like a daughter,’ Schmidt said. ‘As far as I knew they were all very caring and treated her like one of the family. His mom was so excited about the engagement.’
The distraught mother also clarified that Gabby and Brian had been engaged, but decided to call it off and go back to just dating because they felt they were too young for marriage.
‘I think they kind of put that on hold just because they felt it was a little fast. They were excited at first, but then they were like, let’s just wait, we’re very young. So they were really just boyfriend and girlfriend,’ she said.
She said they’d been a couple for a little over two years, but met growing up in Long Island.
‘They went to high school together. They were friends. They got back in touch and started dating,’ she said.
In light of the disappearance, Schmidt says she’s now viewing everything under a new lens.
‘Maybe the relationship wasn’t what I thought,’ she said.
Laundrie’s father, 62-year-old Christopher Laundrie (pictured), was seen mowing his lawn on Monday, and refused to comment on his son’s whereabouts. ‘If they cared about her, they would want to find her,’ said Schmidt. ‘Why aren’t you out helping find her?’
Above is the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida, where Brian Laundrie returned in the couple’s van without Gabby after their trip
Schmidt has recently seen photos in the news of Brian’s father performing yard work.
‘If they cared about her, they would want to find her,’ she said. ‘Why aren’t you out helping find her?’
‘I don’t want to seem accusatory,’ she said. ‘It’s confusing, my mind is turning right now.’
She’s also questioning Brian’s trip back to Florida in August to help his father move their things into a storage unit. She wonders why it was necessary to move Gabby’s things during their road trip and what became of her stuff.
‘Where are her things?’ she asked.
Asked why Brian chose to lawyer up, she replied, ‘You know I wish I knew that answer, why.’
‘I know that’s the reason this story is so sought after is because it’s odd. The police have said it’s very odd. We don’t know what’s going on, and where is my daughter. I just want to find her.’
Gabby, who grew up in Blue Point, New York, was last seen on August 24 checking out of a hotel with Brian in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The following day she made her final call to her family, telling them that she and Brian had traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Her last Instagram post on August 25, shows her visiting the Monarch Wall in Ogden, Utah with the caption ‘Happy Halloween’. The pair were heading from Ogden to Yellowstone National Park, just north of Grand Teton.
The couple embarked on their trip on July 2 from Blue Point, where they traveled for Gabby’s brother’s graduation on June 17. She was reported missing by her mother to New York authorities on Saturday night.
Schmidt said they’d been a couple for a little over two years, but met growing up in Long Island. ‘They went to high school together. They were friends. They got back in touch and started dating’
The couple had documented their conversion of a 2012 Ford van into a camper and their life traveling in it on YouTube and Instagram
Schmidt spoke of her daughter’s love of adventure.
‘She was starting with a van life channel. This was the beginning. That was her very first video posted. That was the start of her whole YouTube journey.’
‘She just fell in love with that lifestyle and wanted to take journeys. She was a free spirit. Everybody was jealous, everyone was like, we want to do that too, but we all think we just have to get a job and go to school. But she was doing what we were all envious of.
‘And I supported her on all of that, even every once and a while when she needed help moneywise and stuff, because it was a really expensive trip. I helped her out a little bit here and there. So did her father. But they were having a great time.’
Schmidt said the last time she spoke over the phone with her daughter was on August 25 – and cast suspicion on the texts received from her adventure-seeking daughter over the next five days.
She said she texted Gabby on August 27 and 30, but now says she isn’t sure if her daughter was on the other end of the exchange because it wasn’t verbal and she didn’t share any photos of herself.
She said, ‘It was just a text. I did not verbally speak to her. I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van. I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore.’
She told DailyMila.com, ‘It didn’t sound stressed or anything like that. It was just a little bit weird, the things that she was saying.’ She didn’t elaborate further.
Schmidt said Gabby would contact her at least three times a week. ‘We would FaceTime, call, text, frequently. She kept me updated on this whole trip… The first couple of days [she went missing], 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.’
She added: ‘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. And I know we’re not out there, but I hope everyone’s looking for her. I hope that the hikers and the rangers and the campers and everybody has her face and they’re looking for her actively.’
Gabby was seen in a YouTube video eating a snack in the van as they made way on their cross-country journey
‘I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van,’ Schmidt said of her daughter. ‘I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore’
The above map illustrates the places Petito and Laundrie visited since the start of the trip leaving New York on July 2 to when she last spoke to her family on August 25 from Grand Teton National Park
Gabby’s father Joe, who lives in Vero Beach, Florida, is pleading for help bringing his daughter home and addressed the public on Monday when speaking with the New York Post.
He said to ‘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.’
He added that on August 21, she let him know on FaceTime that they had lost power during a stop in Salt Lake City.
‘Everything was good. She had lost power to wherever she was at. She couldn’t get on the WiFi for whatever reason,’ Petito said.
Throughout the past week, neither parent heard from her and so ‘we got pretty alarmed and tried to do the missing-person report,’ he said.
He urged people across the country to be on the lookout for anything that seems ‘fishy.’
‘The hard part is that it’s the van life. They can go anywhere they wanted, unfortunately, in this situation. It’s the entire damn country,’ he said.
Asked whether she thinks her daughter may just be camping in an area with no cell phone service, Schmidt replied, ‘I hope that’s the case. And maybe she’s off with some other drifters, hanging out. I would love for that to be what she’s doing right now.’