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The mother of Gabby Petito is donating $100,000 to a domestic violence hotline to honor her slain daughter and help others.
Nichole Schmidt announced on Thursday that The Gabby Petito Foundation is donating $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, according to the “Today” show. The donation is in response to the hotline’s "Hope Can't Wait" initiative, which hopes to raise $2 million.
“Our story begins because of a domestic violence tragedy and we don’t want to see that happen to anybody else,” Schmidt said on a Thursday episode of the “Today” show.
Petito’s family was thrust into the spotlight one year ago after Petito, 22, vanished during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23, in August. Laundrie then returned to his parents’ home in Florida before also vanishing. From there, a nationwide search to locate Petito — and the manhunt for Laundrie — captivated America and became one of 2021's biggest stories.
Petito's remains were ultimately found in Wyoming weeks after she was reported missing; she had been strangled. Laundrie's body was found in a Florida nature preserve a few weeks after that, and it was determined that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot. The FBI concluded in January that Laundrie was responsible for Petito’s murder. In a notebook found near his body Laudrie claimed that he killed her to end her suffering after she fell and hurt herself.
“That was his character, even in his last moments, he wanted to make sure he looked like the good guy,” Schmidt said in her Thursday interview. “That’s ridiculous. We know how she died.”
The $100,000 donation will go toward hiring more staff. National Domestic Violence Hotline CEO Katie Ray-Jones told the “Today” show that the hotline has been bogged down this summer with nearly twice as many calls and chats as last summer. They noted an increase in calls following Petito’s high-profile case.
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