“I want to see him in a jail cell for the rest of his life.”
That was Joe Petito’s message on Wednesday to Brian Laundrie if the former fiancé of his slain daughter had anything to do with her death.
Joe sat down with Dr. Phil McGraw for the second part of a wide-ranging interview that aired Wednesday, along with Gabby Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, and her stepparents, Tara Petito and Jim Schmidt.
They discussed their desire for Brian Laundrie to be apprehended alive, what they are planning with the Gabby Petito Foundation, and their reaction to a 911 call for a domestic incident between the couple.
During that 911 call, a witness told dispatch that he saw Gabby and Brian fighting over a phone and “the gentleman was slapping the girl.”
“I didn’t listen to the whole call. I can’t do it,” Joe said in the interview Wednesday. “I just can’t do it.”
Gabby’s mom agreed, saying that she was “angry because it didn’t make any sense.”
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Gabby disappeared about two weeks after that incident and her remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger–Teton National Forest on Sept. 19.
Brian, who is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance and death, returned to North Port in her van without her on Sept. 1, but disappeared himself on Sept. 13.
A manhunt is now underway after an arrest warrant for alleged debit card fraud was issued for him on Sept. 23.
“I just hope he’s found,” Joe said Wednesday. “I want to see him in a jail cell for the rest of his life, where he’s an outdoorsman being in that concrete cell.”
“I want to look him in the eyes,” Nichole said.
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Despite the witness’s statement on the 911 call, responding officers appeared to zero in on Gabby as the aggressor after pulling the couple over outside of Moab, Utah.
Gabby and Brian were eventually just separated for the night without any charges being filed. Dr. Phil took issue with that decision on Wednesday, saying that it would have been helpful for a mental health worker to be on the scene who could “recognize red flags” about the incident.
“One of the worst things you can do is to just separate them for eight hours and then put them back together,” Dr. Phil said in Wednesday’s interview. “That escalates the violence. It doesn’t de-escalate the violence. And that was exactly what was done in this situation.”
Richard Stafford, the Petitos’ attorney, said that they rented a house so everyone in the family could grieve together in privacy.
“There’s not too many people that can understand, like you feel sorry and you can empathize, especially if you’re a parent,” Joe said in Wednesday’s interview. “You get it in your head, but until you’re there, you don’t have a clue.”
Gabby’s parents started the Gabby Petito Foundation in her honor to assist other families with missing loved ones.
“We’re going to work hard to help as many people as we can. And I know, we’re just us. We don’t know what we can do, but we’re going to do our best,” Nichole said Wednesday. “We’re not going to let Gabby be forgotten through helping others.”
Dr. Phil announced during the interview that he’s donating $25,000 to the foundation “to help find missing people, to help keep people in domestic violence situations from winding up like Gabby Petito.”
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The foundation’s first event will be Oct. 17 on Long Island and feature live music, a silent auction, and a raffle, with all proceeds going to their mission.
“She’s changing a lot of lives,” Nichole said. “She’s helping a lot of people and a lot of people love her and we’re very blessed to have that.”