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    ‘It just blows my mind’: Gabby Petito’s family reacts to information released in FBI documents

    By Allyson Henning,


    SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The FBI released 366 pages of information surrounding the Gabby Petito case, much of which has not been seen before.

    8 On Your Side’s J.B. Biunno spoke exclusively with Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, and stepmother, Tara Petito, during an interview on Tuesday.

    “One of the letters that Gabby had written was very shocking,” Schmidt said. “It just showed us that she was trying so hard to earn love from somebody that was not being very caring to her.”

    Schmidt is referring to a letter that Gabby wrote to Brian Laundrie , apologizing for getting upset about “a dumb piece of paper.”

    “I feel her pain in there,” Schmidt said. “It hurts me to know that she was being manipulated in a way to think that she wasn’t good enough for someone and that she had to apologize.”

    The documents also revealed that a revolver speedloader and crossbow arrows were found near Gabby’s body, something the family was unaware of.

    “I had no idea and I actually wanted to confirm that because I was like, ‘Is that really true?’ But it is in the report. It just blows my mind,” Schmidt said.

    The reason for the ammunition and the arrows being found near Petito’s remains is unclear. The evidence, per the documents, is never directly tied to being owned by Laundrie, but instead used as evidentiary support for the search warrant application.

    Tara Petito said the new information coming out is re-triggering, but makes the family want to work and fight harder.

    “It is just more pain that we have to work through and keep fighting,” she said. “But it does make us want to work harder and fight harder.”

    Petito’s family will continue to push for laws to be changed that will help people.

    “If we don’t do that, we feel like we missed our opportunity to help, because Gabby’s voice is huge and we speak for her,” Schmidt said.

    The family is preparing for a fundraising event on Long Island to benefit the Gabby Petito Foundation.

    “We always say she gave us this huge platform, we have to use it. We are fighting for her. We are fighting her name and we will continue to do so,” Tara Petito said.

    Gabby’s body was found on Sept. 19, 2021, at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A coroner determined she was strangled to death and left in the wilderness for weeks.

    Laundrie was a prime suspect in Petito’s death, but he also went missing. He took his own life and his remains were found on Oct. 20, 2021 in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, along with a notebook where he confessed to killing Petito .

    This story includes reporting from J.B. Biunno and Kevin Accettulla .

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WFLA.

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