Cassie Laundrie proudly shared the postcards and text messages she had been sent from the woman who was “like a sister” to her.
The cards are addressed to Ms Laundrie’s son and describe the adventures Gabby Petito and “Uncle Brian” Laundrie are having on their “van-life” road trip, and are signed, “Love Aunt Gabby”.
Ms Laundrie’s interview with ABC News on 17 September is the only interview given by a member of the Laundrie family.
But her statement that she hadn’t talked to her brother Brian since he returned to Florida alone on 1 September, 2021 has now been confirmed to be incorrect.
Cassie Laundrie, Brian Laundrie’s sister, has shared exclusively with @GMA one of her last text messages with Gabby Petito as well as postcards she shared with her children along her trip. pic.twitter.com/9eXQVnNdA8— Kristin Thorne (@KristinThorne) September 20, 2021
Ms Laundrie saw her 23-year-old brother on 1 September and again on 6 September when she joined the family at the Fort De Soto Park campsite in Pinellas County, Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino confirmed.
Two days after the interview aired, Gabby Petito’s remains were found in a remote campsite in Wyoming, and her death has been ruled a homicide.
After Ms Petito’s death was announced, Cassie Laundrie shared a statement with ABC News, saying: “Right now my husband and I would like to express our condolences and prayers to the Petito family.
“Gabby was a fun and loving influence to ‘the boys’ as she always referred to them. We will cherish all the time spent with her.”
Ms Laundrie faded into the background of the search until, weeks later, Duane Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, reported a tip claiming the Laundries had visited a campground near Fort DeSoto, in Pinellas County, Florida.
Reporters confirmed the tip through the Pinellas County Parks Department, then later through the Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino. Mr Bertolino confirmed that not only had Mr Laundrie attended the trip, but his sister joined for a day as well.
That revelation incited a frenzy on social media and in the press, as it seemed as though Ms Laundrie had been caught lying. Mr Bertolino, when asked about the seeming contradiction, said her words were misconstrued by the media.
Press and protesters swarmed Ms Laundrie’s house for days after it was revealed she attended the family camping trip and saw Mr Laundrie just before Ms Petito was declared missing.
On Monday she appeared on Good Morning America, defending her prior comments and voicing her frustration with her family, Mr Bertolino, and the ongoing search for her brother.
“I would tell my brother to just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess,” she said during the interview, noting that if she did know where he was, she would turn him in.
She also said she was not sure if her parents were involved in Mr Laundrie’s disappearance, but said if they were they should “come clean.”
Later, on her front lawn, Ms Laundrie and her husband met with a group of protesters who have been camped outside their home for days. She told them that her children had been crying for three days and that there was not much she could do to find her brother. She also complained about the treatment she was getting from her family.
“I’m in the boat where I’m getting ignored by my family and thrown under the bus by my family’s attorney,” she said.
She said she was just as upset about the ongoing situation as the public.
“We are just as upset, frustrated and heartbroken as everybody else,” Ms Laundrie told the protesters. “I am losing my parents and my brother and my children’s aunt and future sister-in-law on top of this.”
Who is Cassie Laundrie?
Cassandra Marie Laundrie was born on 13 October 1989, the first child of Christopher and Roberta Laundrie.
Her Facebook profile, which is under her married name Cassie Luycx, says she is from Bayport, New York, which is where the Laundrie family lived before moving to Florida.
According to public records, she is married to James “Jimmy” Luycx and the couple are believed to have two young boys.
Photos on Brian Laundrie’s Instagram page show him playing tennis and climbing with his nephews.
A wedding certificate in Sarasota County public records shows the couple married on 28 December 2015 in Venice, Florida, and states Mr Luycx was born in Guatemala.
The couple live in Lakewood Ranch, Manatee County, about 50 miles north of her parents’ home in North Port. She and Mr Luycx previously lived at her parent’s home.
A LinkedIn profile for Mr Luycx lists his occupation as a pool repair specialist. It reveals he has worked at Pinch A Penny, a chain of pool supply stores, for 10 years. He studied criminal justice and political science at the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota between 2008 and 2010. A social media profile picture shows him riding a jet-ski.
On 20 September, a pair of apparent law enforcement officers visited Ms Laundrie’s home, hours after FBI agents raided her parent’s North Port home.
A pair of apparent law enforcement officers visited the Lakewood Ranch home of Brian Laundrie’s sister, Cassie Laundrie, hours after FBI agents raided her parent’s North Port homehttps://t.co/GsJQVjaP11 pic.twitter.com/Eizj1rPza9— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 20, 2021
Ms Laundrie told ABC News she was on vacation at Disney World in Orlando when she was first contacted by authorities about Ms Petito’s disappearance.
A picture from 2019 on her Facebook page shows the Magic Kingdom with fireworks exploding in the foreground. Friends praise her photography skills, and suggest the shot looks like a Disney ad.
“Thank you,” she replies.
“Sheer luck - I thought my husband and son looked cute with the snow coming down and they happened to launch the fireworks.”
Below is a full transcript of her 17 September interview with ABC News (edited for clarity):
“Obviously me and my family want Gabby to be found safe. She’s like a sister and my children love her and all i want is her to come home safe and found and all of this to be a big misunderstanding.
“For the last two years Gabby’s been in our life and she’s been nice and fun and my kids absolutely adore her.”
Asked about Ms Petito’s disappearance she said: “I don’t understand, as much as everybody else I’m learning everything from the news too.
“I talked to the police the second they called, I called them right back.. We were in Orlando with my kids at Disney and when we came back to this.
“I hope she’s safe and good and just out there and unaware and safe.”
Asked about police bodycam footage of a domestic violence incident between the couple on 12 August in Moab, Utah, she said: “I didn’t find anything peculiar other than a couple’s spat gone wrong.”
“They talked about (the van-life trip) it for a while, they loved to travel. They sent us postcards along the way and kept in touch with the kids through video chat and their phones and showed them all the sites cause my boys love to travel too, love all the Utah sites.
“I’ve seen a lot of people saying the YouTube videos: it was from their first trip and their current trip. They mushed it together as one thing.
“The day before they left they came over and helped me with the kids cause I had pest control.
“I haven’t been able to talk to him. I wish I could talk to him. I know that it’s all because the lawyer’s advising not to say anything.
“I’ve cooperated with the police.
“We want her back safe too. It’s obvious, she’s great, she’s cute, she loves my kids, they get along together.
“You want to protect your kids. He always does the right thing, like in the bodycam with the police. He’s a wonderful uncle, he’s always been there when I’ve needed him, he’s been there when Gabby’s needed him.”
“It looked typical of both of them. Whenever they would fight they would take a little break and come back and be fine because that’s what you do in a couple.
“I wish I could help.”