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The Wrongful Death Case of Gabby Petito

Chapter 1: Who is Gabby Petito? 

Death is always tragic. However, losing someone at the hand of someone else is something no family should go through, especially by themselves. Here at Robert J. DeBry & Associates, a wrongful death law firm, we will take on the insurance companies and stop all hospital and insurance distractions while you focus on your family. Our experienced wrongful death litigation team is ready to help your family. CBS News states, “Gabby Petito’s family has filed a lawsuit against police in Moab, Utah, accusing them of negligence that resulted in the 22-year-old’s death last year.” They are seeking $50 million in damages, but who is Gabby Petito, and what happened? Gabby Petito,22 years old, grew up in Blue-Point, Long Island, and attended Bayport-Blue Point High School, where she graduated in 2017. According to Insider, Gabby began traveling at an early age, having posted on her Facebook that she visited Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas in 2012 and posted her trip to Costa Rica on Instagram in 2016. Gabby met a boy in her sophomore year of high school, Brian Laundrie, a Junior at Bayport-Blue Point High School. Distractify quotes Gabby’s high school friend, Alyssa Chen, when referring to the couple’s relationship, “They had very high highs and very low lows, but she always said he was a good boyfriend.” It was reported that the couple had a frequent on-off relationship, making it difficult for high school friends to specify when the two were dating in high school. Gabby and Brian got back together in March 2019, and Gabby became a Florida pharmacy technician to save money for their planned 4-month cross-country road trip together. In July 2020, the couple was announced as being engaged on their Instagram accounts. The couple left New York on July 2nd, but what was supposed to be their year’s adventure ended in a tragedy that rocked the nation and even resulted in the need for a wrongful death lawyer. 

Chapter 2: The Story of Gabby Petito 

The road trip soon took a turn for the worst. While at a stop passing through Utah, someone driving by the couple noticed Brian slapping Gabby, pulled over, and called 911. “We drove by, and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” the caller said. “Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off.” When the cops pulled the couple over, Gabby was in tears. After questioning, the police let the couple go, documenting the event as an “emotional health break.” The couple was separated for the night, but after August 27th, Gabby was not returning phone calls or texts to her family. The last text believed to be sent from Gabby was, “Can you help Stan? I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” Stan is Gabby’s grandfather; however, she had never before referred to him as Stan, leading Gabby’s mother to suspect something was wrong. Some investigators believe that this text was a cry for help. Although Stan was the name of Gabby’s grandfather, “STAN” can also, be an acronym for “Send the authorities now.” While investigators believe this text was sent from Gabby, there is also speculation that it was sent from Brian. The last text from Gabby’s phone read, “No service in Yosemite;” however, this text was not sent from Gabby. Gabby’s mother filed a missing persons report on September 11th, but Gabby wouldn’t be found for another 3-4 weeks, dead. Her death was confirmed through means of strangulation. 

Chapter 3: The Confession of Brian Laundrie

Brian returned to his parents’ from the cross-country road trip early and without Gabby. It has been reported that Brian’s parents knew he had killed Gabby when leaving for their vacation. After a three-week search for Brain, the police found Brian dead in a marsh, not far from his parents’ home; the cause of death was homicide. Near Brian was a notebook where he confessed that he had killed Gabby, claiming that I ended her life, I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made.  Brian also wrote, “They lost a son and a daughter. The most wonderful girl in the world. Gabby I’m sorry.” While Brian tries to justify the murder, the biopsy of Gabby’s body leads to no indication that she had been suffering from the injuries he had claimed prior to killing her. 

Chapter 4: Gabby Petito’s Family Files $50 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Beginning of August, Gabby’s parents filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the police in Moab, Utah, claiming that the police were not adequately trained to handle domestic abuse. After pulled the couple over following the violence report, Gabby had a wound on her arm, and Brian had wounds on his face; however, these wounds were not documented in a domestic violence claim. Gabby informed the police that the entire altercation was her fault, that she hit Brian first, and that she was emotional when they pulled her over due to a couple’s fight. Gabby specifies that she was being mean and that her outburst resulted from her OCD. Neither Gabby nor Brian wished to press charges, so the police documented the event as a mental/ emotional health “break” rather than a domestic violence charge, noting that Brian was the victim of the event. The police say Gabby was frantic to get back to Brian during questioning and that “both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” reported by one of the policemen on the scene, Eric Pratt. It is also speculated that during the police footage, Gabby flashes a call for help. The theorized hand signal is the universal domestic abuse sign, thumb in the middle of the palm, then closed fingers on top, making a fist with a tucked away thumb. 

Chapter 5: What to do if Your Loved One is a Victim of Wrongful Death

What should you do if you or a loved one is a victim of wrongful death? Reach out to a law firm; Robert J. DeBry & Associates can help you and your family worry less about artificial financial concerns and allow you and your family to grieve your loved one. Candidates for a wrongful death lawsuit would be someone who has lost a family member due to an accidental or intentional killing of a family member. John D. Mooney P.A. offers a list of what could count towards a wrongful death lawsuit: medical malpractice, automobile accident, airplane accident, occupational hazards, and criminal actions. Losing a family member is unbearable; now, add on the stress of funeral expenses and hospital bills. When you lose a family member because of someone else’s negligence consulting with experienced attorneys is the right decision. Robert J. DeBry & Associates is Utah’s wrongful death law firm; we will take on the insurance companies and stop all the hospital and insurance distractions while you focus on your family. Our experienced wrongful death litigation team is ready to help your family; we know what needs to be done and are only one phone call away.

Chapter 6: The Role of a Lawyer in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit 

A wrongful death lawyer is a legal professional who primarily handles lawsuits for those who have lost a loved one(s) due to another party’s negligent or reckless acts. The Utah State Legislature sheds light on what constitutes a wrongful Death Lawsuit: 

78B-3-106.  Death of a person — Suit by heir or personal representative.

Except as provided in Title 34A, Chapter 2, Workers’ Compensation Act, when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, his heirs or his personal representatives, for the benefit of his heirs, may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death, or, if the person is employed by another person who is responsible for his conduct, then against the other person.


If the adult person has a guardian at the time of his death, only one action may be maintained for the person’s injury or death.


The action may be brought by either the personal representatives of the adult deceased person for the benefit of the person’s heirs, or by the guardian for the benefit of the heirs, as defined in Section 78B-3-105.


In every action under this section and Section 78B-3-105, damages may be given as under all the circumstances of the case may be just.

The wrongful death attorney helps the victim’s family build a lawsuit against the liable party by providing substantial evidence of the wrongful death and ultimately helps the family procure the appropriate compensation due to circumstances like lost wages, medical bills, and funeral/burial costs.

Here at Robert J. Debry & Associates, our lawyers understand the pain and stress of a wrongful death case. Our firm’s wrongful death attorney in Salt Lake City will put genuine heart and energy into any patients we take, which is why we stand out from other law firms. 

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