Gabby Petito’s young life was cut short. Now a lawyer for the man some think was responsible for her death has spoken out — but does it help his defense?
Steven Bertolino, attorney for Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie, called news of her strangulation death “a tragedy,” Fox News reported. The engaged couple was on a trip together when Petito disappeared and Laundrie returned home alone before skipping town again.
“Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy,” Bertolino said Tuesday to Fox News. Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest last month, though the coroner only recently determined that the 22-year-old died by strangulation.
The case made headlines after Petito was reported missing on Sept. 1 during a trip she was documenting on social media. Laundrie had returned to Florida in Petito’s white van the couple had been using for the trip without Petito.
While investigators were still trying to piece together what happened to the young woman, Laundrie skipped town on Sept. 13. Petito’s remains were found on Sept. 19 and it was estimated that he had been killed three or four weeks prior.
“While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise,” Bertolino said. “At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him.”
Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, doesn’t believe Bertolino’s assertion. “His words are garbage,” she responded through the media via WFLA-TV. “Keep talking.”
It’s unclear what exactly happened, and Laundrie is innocent until proven guilty under the American justice system. However, his absence coupled with the nature of Petito’s death doesn’t bode well for him.