Gabby Petito murder update: Brian Laundrie’s mom vowed to help him ‘dispose of body’ in letter BEFORE trip
MIAMI, FLORIDA: Brian Laundrie's mother Roberta admitted she wrote a letter promising to help him bury a body and break him out of jail before he left for a fateful road trip with his fiancee Gabby Petito. She said through her attorney that she penned the note prior to the start of the June 2021 cross-country road trip that would end in Petito's tragic death. The contents of the "Burn After Reading" letter sparked fury from Petito's parents, who insisted it was evidence Roberta plotted with her son to cover up their daughter's murder.
The letter, which is undated but from around the time of Petito's death, revealed how Roberta Laundrie offered to bake her son a cake with a file in it should he be sent to prison. She also vowed to help him dispose of a corpse to prove her love for him. Florida Judge Danielle Brewer ruled on Wednesday, May 24, that the contents of the letter were admissible evidence and could be used in a civil lawsuit brought by Petito's family against the Laundries over her death.
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“If you’re in jail I will bake a cake and put a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body. I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags,” Roberta wrote in the letter to her son Brian, who confessed to killing his girlfriend before ending his own life in 2021. “I just want you to remember I will always love you and I know you will always love me. You are my boy. Nothing can make me stop loving you, nothing can or ever will divide us no matter what we do, or where we go, or what we say – we will always love each other,” she continued. “If you fly to the moon, I will be watching the skies for your re-entry. If you say you hate my guts, I’ll get new guts. Remember that love is a verb, not a noun. It’s not a thing it’s not words. It is actions. Watch people’s actions to know if they love you – not their words," Roberta added, before quoting a Bible verse from Romans 8:38.
BREAKING! #GabbyPetito update. The “Burn After Reading” letter Brian Laundrie’s mother Roberta Laundrie wrote to her son saying “if you need to dispose of a body I’ll show up with a shovel and garbage bags” has just been released #JusticeForGabby #JusticeForGabbyPetito #HeyJB pic.twitter.com/eJbJj8cGar— Andy Signore (@andysignore) May 25, 2023
Speaking to Fox News, Roberta admitted the letter was penned before her son, 23, and his girlfriend, 22, left for the road trip in June 2021, months before her body was found in September of that year. She claimed in a previously filed affidavit that she wrote the letter “to reach out to Brian while he and I were experiencing a difficult period in our relationship.” According to her, the “burn after reading” label was a reference to a book Gabby had given him titled “Burn After Writing”, and which encouraged the reader to write self-expressive letters to themselves and then burn them afterward. Addressing the eye-popping details about shovels, disposing of bodies, and baking files into cakes for her son in prison, Roberta said they were references to Brian’s favorite childhood books, including 'Little Bear' and 'The Runaway Bunny', and that the phrases “were common enough in our circle of friends and family to describe who you could turn to in the most troubling times of your life."
Matthew Lukda, an attorney representing the Laundries, argued during Wednesday's hearing that the references to murder and prison time were merely happenstance and that his client's “choice of words in hindsight is unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean the letter is relevant.” But Pat Reilly, the attorney representing Gabby's parents Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, held up the bear and bunny books in the courtroom and declared that he'd found no references to bodies or shovels in them. According to Reilly, while the letter itself did not cause distress to his clients, it could serve as proof the Laundries knew about her death when they released the September 2021 statement that suggested hope she might be alive.
Judge Brewer ultimately ruled in favor of Gabby's parents to allow the letter to be entered into evidence. Lukda handed over a number of copies to the prosecution at the end of the hearing. According to Schmidt and Petito, the Laundries knew their son had murdered Gabby but instead of disclosing their knowledge, they released a statement via their lawyer Steven Bertolino expressing "hope" she would be "reunited" with them on September 14, 2021. Tragically, Gabby's remains were discovered in Wyoming five days later.
On October 20, 2021, Brian's skeletal remains were found in Florida. A medical examiner concluded that he shot himself on the left side of the head and that animals had partially ravaged his body. He had left a lengthy note about Gabby that stated in part, “I ended her life," adding, “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.” His mother's suspicious letter was found alongside the note. Petito's parents have argued that if the Laundries and Bertolino -- who is also named as a co-defendant -- knew Gabby was dead when they released the statement, it constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress. They brought a civil lawsuit on those grounds last year, the New York Post reported.