Skip to Content

It’s been just over a year since the body of Gabby Petito was discovered in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The 22-year old vlogger had been reported missing several days prior by her parents, prompting a manhunt of the region in which she had been traveling… along with national headlines over the what had happened to this young woman.

In the end, everyone’s worst fears were confirmed.

It’s since been confirmed that Petito was murdered by her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who then took his own life.

Just grisly, horrible stuff all around.

Fast forward to this Sunday night… and Lifetime airing a true-crime film titled The Gabby Petito Story.

Skyler Samuels will portray Petito and Evan Hall will portray Laundrie and many observers out there feel pretty icky about a network so quickly leaping at the chance to exploit this tragedy for ratings.

Those behind the movie don’t see it that way, however.

“When I was presented with the opportunity to portray Gabby I was admittedly quite overwhelmed and it was a hard decision to make,” Samuels told Entertainment Tonight this week, explaining that “it’s a big responsibility to play someone who was alive.”

As a refresher:

Petito was reported missing by her parents in September 2021 after she failed to return home after a cross-country trip.

The subsequent nationwide search led authorities to Wyoming, where she was last seen alive.

The young woman’s corpse was eventually found in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping area, with evidence showing that her death was a homicide.

Gabby Petito on Her Gram

Added Samuels in her ET interview:

“I also felt it was a chance to give Gabby a voice in her own story that I don’t think the media did justice with.

“I think we, as a consumer media culture, came in at the tail end of a much more complicated story and so Gabby’s life is much more than the headlines that we read when all of these tragedies started to occur.

“I just think she deserves better.”

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito posed with Brian Laundrie in this photo. Evidence related to her disappearance, from eyewitness reports of domestic violence to Brian’s later disappearance, has made all photos of their “happy” times together disturbing in retrospect.

Likely aware of some of the backlash out there, the actress adds:

“The world should know that she was a fighter and she was fierce and there’s a lot more to her than initially displayed.”

Just a few months ago, Laundrie’s body — as well as a notebook admitting to the killing — were found in the Florida marshlands of Sarasota County.

According to Lifetime, its original movie “will bring to life Gabby and Brian’s doomed love story, including the warning signs that Gabby’s life was in danger.”

Brian Laundrie Photo
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito pose together here for an Instagram photo, snapped not long before the latter was killed.

“It’s important to note that this story is not about what happened. It’s about how it happened,” Samuels says.

“This story really aims to look at Gabby and Brian’s relationship to the point that they got to.

“Like, ‘How did they end up alone in the woods that tragic evening? How did all of that happen?’

“Because that’s the part that wasn’t talked about in all this media coverage of their disappearances and their deaths, and that’s really what we’re focused on.”

The Gabby Petito Story premieres Saturday, October 1 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Lifetime.