Gabby Petito's heartbreaking story is coming to Lifetime.
The murder of 22-year-old Petito at the hands of her fiancé Brian Laundrie made headlines around the world. Petito—a budding social media star—disappeared in late August 2021 during a cross-country van trip with Laundrie. He immediately became the primary suspect in her disappearance.
After Petito's remains were found in Wyoming on September 19, an autopsy revealed she died of strangulation. Two months later, police announced that Laundrie had died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In a notebook found near his body, Laundrie claimed responsibility for Petito's murder.
The Lifetime movie, tentatively titled The Gabby Petito Story, will mark the directorial debut of Thora Birch. Birch will also play Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt, in the film. Birch was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in 2001's cult classic Ghost World and earned a BAFTA nomination for her performance in 1999's American Beauty. She also received an Emmy nomination for playing the title role in the 2003 Lifetime movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story.
"The Gabby Petito Story will explore Gabby and her fiancé Brian Laundrie's complicated relationship," said the network, "and what may have gone wrong during their cross-country trip that resulted in Gabby's tragic murder."
The movie is scheduled to film in Utah this summer.
Gabby's story is part of Lifetime's Stop Violence Against Women public affairs initiative. "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," the network said. "Being a leader in telling powerful stories of women and providing a platform to shine a light on unheard voices."
While Petito's story gained overwhelming attention, it continued a debate concerning the stories that manage to garner headlines and the ones that don't, like the murders of women of color and trans women.
Lifetime promises they are "also in development on several movies surrounding violence against women who may not have had the same media attention as Gabby Petito," including the stories of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, Adriane Fields, Beatrice Weston.
Freeland-Gaither is a Black woman who was abducted and later found in 2014, Fields is a Black woman who was raped by the notorious Bathtub Killer Dale Scheanette in 1999 and Weston is a Black woman who survived Philadelphia's Basement of Horrors in 2011.
The Gabby Petito Story will premiere later this year on Lifetime.