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The notorious Gabby Petito case has been greenlit to become a Lifetime movie as part of the network's “Stop Violence Against Women” public affairs initiative.
Lifetime announced the upcoming film entitled “The Gabby Petito Story” on Thursday, noting in a statement that the “anniversary of Gabby Petito’s disappearance and murder approaching this fall.”
The Petito case captured the attention of the nation when the 22-year-old travel blogger vanished in late August while on a road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23. Petito’s family had reported her missing on Sept. 11, 10 days after Laundrie had returned to his parents' home in North Port, Florida without her; he too vanished shortly after. Petito's remains were found weeks later in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the last known location the couple were together. Several weeks after that, investigators found Laundrie's body in a Florida nature preserve following a weeks-long manhunt; they determined he died from a self-inflicted gunshot. In a notebook found near his remains, he took credit for Petito’s strangling death, according to the FBI.
Just last week, Petito’s parents filed an amendment to a civil lawsuit filed earlier this year, claiming that Laundrie's parents knew the whereabouts of their daughter's remains yet refused to disclose the information.
Actor Thora Birch, known for her iconic roles in classics like “American Beauty” and “Ghost World” will direct “The Gabby Petito Story” in her directorial debut. She will also star as Gabby’s mother Nicole Schmidt.
“The Gabby Petito Story will explore Gabby and her fiancé Brian Laundrie’s complicated relationship and what may have gone wrong during their cross-country trip that resulted in Gabby’s tragic murder,” the Lifetime press release states.
The couple were involved in a domestic violence incident in Moab, Utah on Aug. 12, just a couple of weeks before Petito would disappear. A witness called 911 reporting seeing a man strike a woman before the couple drove off. When police pulled over the pair, an emotional Petito blamed herself for the encounter, saying she hit Laundrie first, before he grabbed her face. After separate conversations with the two, which were recorded on body cameras, police decided to separate them for the night.
A PSA providing resources on domestic violence will debut along with the movie, Lifetime has announced.
“As a trusted destination for women, Lifetime will create a new PSA to debut as part of the movie’s roll out, driving to the important work of the network’s coalition of partners to provide resources for women,” they state. “Being a leader in telling powerful stories of women and providing a platform to shine a light on unheard voices, Lifetime is also in development on several movies surrounding violence against women who may not have had the same media attention as Gabby Petito. These include the stories of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, Adriane Fields, Beatrice Weston, among others, with each project in various stages of development.”
The film will be shot in Utah this summer and then “premiere later this year.”
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