- Gabby Petito’s stepdad called it ‘unacceptable’ that her boyfriend isn’t helping the search for her.
- Petito is missing since going on a road trip with Brian Laundrie, from which only he has returned.
- James Schmidt, the stepdad, traveled to Wyoming to join a search for her there.
Gabby Petito’s stepfather said Wednesday that the silence of Brian Laundrie and his family is “unacceptable,” and that the missing 22-year-old “deserves better.”
James Schmidt spoke to DailyMail.com in Wyoming, where he had traveled from his Long Island home to assist in the search for Petito.
Petito’s family last heard from her when she and Laundrie, her boyfriend, were traveling through Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.
On September 11 — 10 days after Laundrie returned to his Florida home — Petito was reported missing.
Laundrie has since spoken only through a lawyer and is not offering information to the police, drawing condemnation from Petito’s family. On Wednesday, they released a statement calling the silence “reprehensible.”
“It’s unacceptable,” Schmidt told DailyMail.com. “It’s unacceptable to us. We deserve more, Gabby deserves more information. She deserves to be found and brought home safe.”
Addressing the Laundrie family directly, he said: “We need you to step up and do the right thing.” He said he understood that Laundrie’s parents may want to protect their child, but that they should still speak out.
“Whatever may have transpired or didn’t transpire, they need to come forward,” he said.
“The longer they don’t, the longer it’s going to take to bring her home. And we need her home now. So they have to.”
“Please, stop staying in the background, and come out, and help find Gabby,” he added, an apparent reference to Laundrie’s statement that said he would “remain in the background” for the search.
Police named Laundrie as a person of interest in Petito’s case Wednesday, which Schmidt said he couldn’t comment on much. “But he was with her,” he said. “He has to know something.”
It emerged that Petito and Laundrie had got into a fight on August 12, a week before she was last seen. Police were called, and their subsequent report described the situation as a “mental health crisis.”
Schmidt urged people were in the same areas as Petito recently to look back over their photos in case they turn up anything that could lead to her.
Petito and Laundrie both extensively documented their trip up until around the end of August on social media, making it possible to track the locations they stayed at, as Insider’s Connor Perrett reported.
‘Exhausting’ family efforts to bring Petito home
Schmidt, who is the partner of Petito’s mother Nicole, said he had known Petito since she was three. Petito’s father, Joe Petito, and her stepmother Tara, have been helping the investigation in Florida, Schmidt said.
He said he had traveled to help the search in Wyoming because there was no family member assisting the police investigation there. “This is where she was last known to be going,” he said, adding that she had aimed to finish her trip in Yellowstone National Park.
“Since we got here we’ve been working almost around the clock, just trying to gather information and just let it be known that we’re out here,” he said.
“It’s been exhausting,” he said. “[…] but we’re focused on what we need to do and that’s to bring Gabby home.”
As of Thursday, Petito has been considered missing for 6 days, and has been alone — likely in the wilderness — for nearly two weeks.
A private investigator told Insider’s Kenneth Niemeyer and Erin Snodgrass that her chances of survival outdoors were “minimal” after so long a time.
But Schmidt said he’s holding out hope.
“I don’t want to talk about fears,” he said.