Stills from an upcoming Lifetime film based on the tragic death of Gabby Petito have been released just as the FBI confirms boyfriend Brian Laundrie confessed to killing the aspiring social media star in his personal notebook.
“The Gabby Petito Story” was spotted filming for the first time in the mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday,
Director Thora Birch is seen in a few shots giving direction to the two actors playing Petito and Laundrie.
Burch will also act in the film as Petito’s mother. A full cast list has yet to be released.
The snaps capture a scene where the couple engaged in an intense argument before Laundrie storms off and hops into the white van that he’d later drive home alone in after murdering girlfriend Petito.
Many have taken issue with Lifetime’s decision to move forward with a project about Petito’s death so quickly, as she was killed by Laundrie just last fall.
“I can’t believe this even needs to be said but we do NOT need a Gabby Petito murder movie. We don’t,” tweeted one critic, with another adding, “Hollywood is making a movie about the death of Gabby Petito?!?! Unreal. Tone deaf. But I’m not surprised. Hollywood can’t come up with anything original these days.”
The network may have had good intentions, however, as the film will be a part of its Stop Violence Against Women public affairs initiative.
Long Island native Petito went missing on a road trip with Laundrie and was found Sept. 19 strangled to death in a camping ground near the Grand Tetons.
Laundrie disappeared after her death, sparking a nationwide manhunt. He was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound near a Florida swamp, where his notebook was recently recovered by the FBI.
“I ended her life,” he wrote, claiming that 22-year-old Petito fell and badly hurt herself.
“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock.”
Last month, Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida against the curator of Laundrie’s estate. She is seeking damages of $30,000.