That was the big question on people's minds for many days this summer after "van life" influencer Gabby Petito never returned home from a road trip with fiancé Brian Laundrie.
Now, a judge has given Petito's family the go-ahead to sue Laundrie's parents in a civil trial over allegations that they distracted the public and helped him escape the law despite knowing he'd killed her on the road.
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Petito, 22, was ultimately found dead from strangulation along their multi-state road-trip route. Laundrie, 23, returned to his parents' home in Florida without her and dropped out of sight for weeks. He was later found to have died by suicide.
The FBI says he admitted to killing her in a notebook recovered during their investigation.
"I ended her life," he wrote in the notebook, which was photographed and released by his family lawyer last week, according to WFLA. "I thought it was merciful."
In the Petitos' lawsuit, they claim that the Laundries knew their son had killed Gabby and that his parents simply sat on the information.
They also allege that the Laundries hired a lawyer to put out statements for them, refused to answer their calls and even went on vacation while the Petitos were left with no news of their daughter's fate for several days.
"They went on vacation knowing that Brian Laundrie had murdered Gabrielle Petito," they wrote in the lawsuit. They add that the Laundries likely knew where her body was and that her parents were searching for her, but they didn't share that information.
Laundrie returned home alone from the road trip in late August 2021, but Petito's whereabouts were unknown until her body was found September 19 in a Wyoming park. Laundrie's remains were not found until October 20.
According to the lawsuit, the Petitos are calling for damages of more than $30,000 for "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
The Laundries' lawyer argued that the claims were "baseless" and "frivolous," but a judge denied his request to have the case dismissed, WTSP reports.
The trial is slated to start on August 14, 2023, according to documents obtained by WTSP.