GABBY Petito's family has been labeled as heroic for working tirelessly to reclaim the girl's story ahead of a movie release inspired by the tragedy.
Domestic violence advocate and mother of the victim Nichole Schmidt told The U.S. Sun they "have no involvement" in Lifetime's film which premieres just over a year after the 22-year-old was found dead.
The Gabby Petito Story has sparked controversy among viewers who said it's "way too soon" to release a dramatized version of the harrowing tale.
The movie will retrace Gabby's final moment before she vanished while on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé and eventual killer Brian Laundrie.
Now, Gabby's parents, Joe Petito and Nicole Schmidt, are using the conversation surrounding the girl's tragic murder to raise awareness of domestic violence.
"This is a measure of bravery," said forensic expert, Joseph Scott Morgan, who exclusively spoke to The U.S. Sun about the film's release.
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"He [Joe Petito] was able to take this horrible set of circumstances which he didn't ask for and use the death of his precious daughter to turn eyes to domestic violence."
Morgan, the host of the podcast Body Bags, questioned the intentions of the filmmakers, especially after the "heroic" Petito family has reacted with tenacity and courage.
"It's really easy to say, from a theatrical standpoint, what we're doing here," Morgan said. "We're doing this in order to honor her memory.
"Anybody can say that. Was that what you're doing here with Gabby's death and the circumstances? Or is it to sell whatever your sponsors are telling you to sell."
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Joe and Nichole recently honored Gabby's memory by urging the public to pay attention to signs of domestic violence exactly a year after the girl's body was discovered.
"Nobody had any idea what she was going through," Nichole said on Twitter.
The parents encouraged anyone who would listen to "Let people know that they're not alone, and that might help get them through it. That's the important thing."
Gabby amassed a large group of supporters after her disappearance shook America, and Morgan believes social media is the key component of this.
"So many things are driven by social media, and her life was documented," Morgan said.
He pointed out all of Gabby's Instagram posts saying that on the outside it appeared she was "doing something I think a lot of people wish that they could do."
"But again, you look at anything and never know what's bubbling beneath the surface. It was a real horror show, apparently."
THE GABBY PETITO STORY
As the Lifetime original is set to release, Morgan commended the family's efforts to reclaim the narrative and slammed the movie saying it likely could never have the same impact as the family's important conversations.
"Lifetime will never impact our response to domestic violence to the same degree that Mr. Petito and Gabby's mother have," Morgan said.
"That's something that people have noticed."
Ultimately, the forensic expert, who previously spoke to The U.S. Sun about Gabby's autopsy, believes that the cultural impact of the movie won't be that significant.
Morgan urged the filmmakers to ask themselves what the true motivations behind the movie are.
"I would say that would be a question that products should have to ask themselves," he said.
"At night, when they're shutting it down, closing their eyes and going to bed, this decision that we're making to take this horrible event and turn it around, what's our purpose behind this?"
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The movie is set to be released on October 1, 2022, the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The U.S. Sun has reached out to Lifetime for comment on this event.
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