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Kim Goldman, whose beloved brother Ron was brutally murdered more than two decades ago, wants to speak with Gabby Petito’s family.
Some 27 years after the horrific killings that ignited the “Trial of the Century,” the 50-year-old has launched a new podcast titled “Media Circus,” in which she’s explored media coverage of high-profile crimes. The bestselling author also has spoken with family members in hopes of raising awareness of how their lives were affected over the years.
Goldman told Fox News Digital she’s hoping to speak with Petito’s loved ones eventually and offer them a space to share their own stories.
“Gabby’s case is one of those conversations that I’ve had with our team about how to discuss that because the power of media and social media, I think, helped bring that case to where it became that we found Gabby,” said Goldman.
“I also can appreciate from Gabby’s family’s point of view how hard that was, that every day it was just constant. [You had] people’s opinions and thoughts, ‘And here he is, and there she is,’ and the commentary around it. It just adds a layer of discomfort and invasion of privacy.
“I’m hoping to speak with Gabby’s family at the end of the season, just because I want to understand how that impacted their grief,” Goldman added. “Did it help their case? Did it hurt their case? Did having so much support benefit them? Did it lead police on wild goose chases that took them away from other legitimate leads? There are all these things that I think we need to be paying attention to … our armchair detectives, does that help or hinder? And how can we do better at that?”
In 2021, Petito’s father called on the public to help other missing people through the power of social media.
“I don’t want to dismiss the ridiculously hard work that the FBI and law enforcement all around did, but social media has been amazing and very influential,” said Joesph Petito. “To be honest, it should continue for other people too. This same type of heightened awareness should be continued for everyone.
“I want to ask everyone to help all the people that are missing and need help,” Petito told reporters. “Like I said before, it’s in all of you, everyone that’s in this room to do that. If you don’t do that for other people that are missing, that’s a shame because it’s not only Gabby that deserves that.”
Goldman acknowledged that the role of social media is both helpful and hurtful when it comes to investigating tragic cases. She described how family members trying to cope with a tragic loss while suddenly being in the public eye are easily overlooked or forgotten.
“I think part of the reason why I wanted to do ‘Media Circus’ is to teach and educate listeners and viewers on the information as to how to proceed with caution, how to proceed with care and concern and compassion because it is so easy to get sucked into social media,” she explained. “It’s so easy to be irresponsible and insensitive … That can be really dangerous if we’re not paying attention to the impact of it.
“I can only attest to what it’s been like for us for all these years later,” she continued. “It drums up a whole new generation of listeners, followers, supporters and haters. I just see it flying completely out of control. But I can also see the beauty and power of it. I’ve been able to connect with incredible people and short support and be kind and compassionate, but you’ve got to sift through some of the muck to get to that part.”
In 2019, Goldman launched a podcast titled “Confronting O.J. Simpson,” in which she examined her brother’s case. At the time, she told Fox News Digital she wanted “to reclaim some control over a story that’s been so out of control.”
In 1994, Ron, 25, and his friend, Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, were stabbed to death in one of Los Angeles’ most exclusive neighborhoods. Simpson, a Hall of Fame football hero nicknamed “The Juice,” was acquitted of the murders. As the verdict was read following one of the most divisive criminal cases in U.S. history, cameras in the courtroom caught a devastated Goldman sobbing uncontrollably.
A civil trial later found Simpson responsible for both deaths, but the murder case is officially listed as unsolved. Simpson has always maintained his innocence.
Since the criminal trial, Goldman has immersed herself in helping troubled teens and aiding crime victims’ rights groups.
Petito, 22, and 23-year-old Brian Laundrie met when they were living on Long Island, New York., where they attended school together. The couple later moved into Laundrie’s parents’ North Port, Florida, home and Laundrie proposed. The pair embarked on a cross-country trip in June 2021 with plans to travel the country in a 2012 Ford Transit van and visit national parks along the way.
But Laundrie returned to his North Port home Sept. 1 in the van the couple had been using, but without his fiancée. Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, reported her missing to Suffolk County Police on Sept. 11, 2021.
Investigators found Petito’s body near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming Sept. 19 near where a travel-blogging couple saw the pair’s 2012 Ford Transit van parked in late August. Investigators ruled her death a homicide by manual strangulation and blunt-force trauma to the head and neck.
There was turmoil between the pair during at least one portion of their cross-country excursion.
Police records showed that, on Aug. 12, police in Moab, Utah, responded to a report of a domestic dispute between the young couple. In a 911 call placed at the time, a person could be heard telling a police dispatcher that “the gentleman was slapping the girl.” But the call, first reported by Fox News Digital, contradicted a police report in which an officer stated, “no one reported that the male struck the female.”
“The male tried to create distance by telling Gabb[y] to go take a walk to calm down, she didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him,” the report continued. “He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door, she opened that and forced her way over to him and into the vehicle before it drove off.”
Body camera footage of Moab police officers’ response to the call later went public. One of the officers on the scene wrote that the incident could be “more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”
Both Petito and Laundrie denied that Laundrie hit and slapped Petito. Moab Police ultimately separated the couple for the night, but otherwise let them go. Officers left Petito to sleep in the couple’s camper van and drove Laundrie to a nearby motel, but an employee at the motel could not confirm to Fox News Digital whether Laundrie stayed overnight.
An outside investigation found that the officers made “unintentional mistakes” and recommended multiple changes be made in how such instances are handled. Officials also recommended the officers involved in the call be placed on probation. Laundrie disappeared shortly after he returned to Florida alone.
The Laundrie family’s attorney announced Sept. 17 that Brian vanished Sept. 14, 2021, after telling his family he was going to a local reserve. The family later changed the date that Brian was last seen to Sept. 13. He subsequently was identified as a person of interest in Petito’s death and then as a suspect in her murder. Then, on Sept. 23, the FBI announced he was wanted for bank card fraud.
Laundrie’s remains ultimately turned up in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park Oct. 20, 2021, shortly after his parents discovered multiple items belonging to their son, Fox News Digital exclusively reported at the time. Laundrie was known to frequent the park before his disappearance and subsequent death. A medical examiner determined Laundrie had shot himself in the head.
Among the items later discovered near his remains was a notebook that was found to have included an eight-page note in which Laundrie described his version of events leading up to Petito’s death.
“I ended her life,” it said. “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.”
Laundrie wrote that he killed Petito after, he claimed, she injured herself when she fell in Wyoming.
“From the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn’t go on without her,” he wrote. “Please do not make life harder for my family. They lost a son and a daughter. The most wonderful girl in the world. Gabby I’m sorry.”
The Laundrie and Petito families are embroiled in a legal battle over the circumstances of Petito’s death and Laundrie’s disappearance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.