Gabby Petito's Stepdad Describes Identifying Her Body — Exactly Where And How She Was Found

It's heartbreaking to hear.

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In a recent interview with Dr. Phil, all of Gabby Petito’s parents spoke out about her murder and the disappearance of her boyfriend, and person of interest in her death, Brian Laundrie.

During the interview, the family revealed how they had found out that the remains in Wyoming were actually their daughter’s — and how they were able to identify her.

Who found Gabby Petito's body?

Gabby's body was found by law enforcement on after witnesses placed her and Laundrie's van in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming weeks earlier.


Gabby's stepdad, Jim Schmidt who helped raise her since she was 2 years old, was the one who identified her.

RELATED: Sleuths Link Keys Found Near Utah Couple’s Bodies To Brian Laundrie Who Flew Home Days After Their Deaths

“So I was in Florida,” Joe Petito, Gabby's father said, “[Nicki] was in New York, Jim was in Wyoming. We tried to strategically place ourselves to best suit what the FBI was asking for.”

RELATED: Lawyer Claims The FBI May Know Where Brian Laundrie Is — He Says They're Waiting To Arrest Him


Jim said he had a feeling that Gabby was somewhere in Wyoming, and that it would be where she was found, so he stayed there.

“It was just something, you know, deep down that I knew she was there,” he said. “Just going off the information that we had we felt that somebody had to be there and I said right away that I would go.”

Dr. Phil then asked where Jim was and how he found out that the FBI had found Gabby’s remains near the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping area in Wyoming.

“We received a call from the FBI that they had some information that they wanted to share with us,” he said. 

It was during a subsequent meeting that the FBI described to Jim the appearance of the remains that they had found.


Gabby's body was found near a fire pit and camp area. 

Jim told Dr. Phil that Gabby's body was located about a five minute walk from where the couple's van would have been parked. 

He described seeing the remnants of a fire pit and a clearing where a tent was likely located before her death. 

RELATED: Brian Laundrie’s Sister Shares Images Of Him In A Bandana After Hiker Reported Seeing Him Wearing One

"You can see where the rocks had been moved to make a fire ring and there was a clearing," he said, "Her body was found — what would be — in front of the tent if that’s what was there or in front of the fire ring."

Jim also recounted leaving a stone cross on the exact location where her body lay with flowers by her chest.


Gabby was wearing one of her favorite sweatshirts when she died.

“They described the piece of clothing to me that matched one of her favorite sweatshirts that we knew, it was hers,” Jim said.

They were able to identify that it was her because the sweatshirt had been from a local shop in New York that couldn’t have been purchased in Wyoming.

“There was another girl out there who closely matched the description of Gabby,” Jim continued, “so that’s why they wanted to be very careful about saying ‘we found remains’ before the coroner can positively identify.”

RELATED: Brian Laundrie Was Prescribed Medication For Mental Illness Before Gabby Petito's Death — But Refused To Take It


According to Gabby’s stepfather, there were four other people who had gone missing in that area, one of which has been found recently.

“So you had to make this call to Nicki and Joe and Tara?” Dr. Phil asked. “That had to be the hardest call of your entire life.”

Jim recounted the story about how they had all been crying and were in disbelief because they had been holding out hope that they could still find her alive.

Nicole started crying at this point and said, “it didn’t hit me right away, for a few seconds. But I knew she was gone. As a mom, I knew she was gone.”


Gabby Petito's family urged Brian Laundrie to come forward.

The body that was found in Wyoming had been confirmed to be Gabby’s on September 21st, 20 days after Laundrie returned home in the white van without her on September 1st.

“Somebody needs to start talking,” says Nicole in reference to the Laundrie family. “I do believe they know a lot more information than they’re putting out there.”

Gabby’s family urges the Laundrie family to step forward and turn their son in, urging Brian to turn himself in as well, so they can finally find justice for their daughter.

RELATED: Police Report Shows Brian Laundrie’s Car Was Never At Carlton Reserve As Parents Change Timeline Of His Disappearance


Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.