Lifetime is set to produce and debut a movie this year that will examine Gabby Petito’s relationship with her boyfriend and admitted killer Brian Laundrie, including their doomed cross country road trip that resulted in the Blue Point woman’s murder.
“The Gabby Petito Story” will be filmed this summer in Utah, one of several states out west that the young couple criss-crossed during their months long summer trip in 2021, Lifetime announced. The premier date will come later this year.
Emmy-nominated actress Thora Birch will co-star, playing Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt. She will direct the movie, which is part of Lifetime’s Stop Violence Against Women initiative.
Utah is the state where on Aug. 12, about two weeks before Petito was strangled to death, Laundrie and Petito were infamously stopped by police near Moab after the two were witnessed getting into a scuffle. Haunting video of the police questioning the pair, which included a crying and visibly distraught Petito, was released and dissected by viewers worldwide after Petito was declared missing Sept. 11.
Police video showed Petito describing a fight that escalated. An independent report released in January indicated that Petito was likely a victim in their overall relationship and faulted police for not taking a statement from a 911 caller who reported seeing the couple outside their van and a man slapping a girl.
Petito’s disappearance triggered a nationwide search and captured worldwide attention. The 22-year-old video blogger had documented their summer trip in her converted cargo van on social media. Her charm, cheeriness and innocence resonated with the public, and online sleuths who labored to help find her and break the case.
In fact, vloggers Jenn and Kyle Bethune of Tampa, Florida, traveling in a Silver Eagle bus, inadvertently recorded video footage evidence Aug. 27 that helped lead investigators on Sept. 19 to the location of Petito’s body near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
A coroner determined she’d died about three weeks earlier of “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation.”
Laundrie, 23, also a Blue Point native, with an uncle and other family still living on the South Shore, returned home to Florida in early September but went missing soon after. In October, his remains were found in a nature preserve near their house in North Port, Florida.
Medical examiners determined he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Prior to embarking on their cross country trip in June, Laundrie and Petito were living with Laundrie’s parents.
Petito’s parents in March filed a civil lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents, alleging that Laundrie told his mother and father that he had killed Petito, the day after the slaying occurred.
Featured image: Gabby Petito mural in Blue Point / Muralist Tess Parker