Gabby Petito’s parents have received a copy of a letter that Brian Laundrie’s mother wrote to her son promising to do anything for him — including helping bury a body. And the Petito family is describing it as a “potential source of evidence” in their lawsuit against the Laundries.
The letter was released Thursday, a day after a hearing on whether the letter could be evidence that the Laundries knew Gabby had been killed in the weeks following her disappearance and hid that information while helping their son evade authorities. Judge Danielle Brewer on Wednesday denied the Laundries’ motion seeking to withhold the letter, which their attorney had argued was private communication written months before Gabby’s death and irrelevant to the case.
The attorney representing Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s parents, previously called the letter potentially “damning” evidence and said it should be up to a jury to decide when the undated document was written.
“As we all know the letter references burying a body bringing a shovel and burying a body,” attorney Patrick Reilly said at Wednesday’s hearing. “Those are criminal acts, by the way, that Roberta Laundrie has said she would commit.”
Roberta Laundrie's "burn after reading" letter to her son.
Brian Laundrie disappeared after he was accused of killing his aspiring van-life influencer fiancee on a cross-country road trip in 2021. He was later found dead by suicide near a nature reserve close to his parents’ home in Florida, with his mother’s letter in his possession.
For months, the Laundrie family argued to keep the letter from being released and brought into evidence. In an affidavit filed in March, Roberta Laundrie claimed that the letter had nothing to do with Gabby’s murder and that its contents were taken out of context.
“While I used words that seem to have a connection with Brian’s actions and his taking of Gabby’s life, I never would have fathomed the events that unfolded months later between Brian and Gabby would reflect the words in my letter,” Roberta Laundrie said in her affidavit.
In the newly released letter obtained by HuffPost, Roberta Laundrie conveyed her love for her son, adding that she would do anything for him.
“I just want you to remember I will always love you, and I know you will always love me,” she wrote. “You are my boy nothing can make me stop loving you, nothing will or could ever divide us no matter what we do or where we go or what we say ― we will always love each other.”
These images have been lightly edited for readability.
The note from the mother was found with Brian Laundrie.
There is no date on the letter from Roberta Laundrie to her son.
She continued, “If you’re in jail, I will bake a cake with a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body, I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags,” the letter read. “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.”
Roberta Laundrie has said that the letter was written to Brian before he and Gabby left for their trip, during a time when the mother and son’s relationship was strained.
In a statement to HuffPost on Thursday, the Petito family said believed the letter was written after their daughter was killed. They argued it showed the Laundries were aware Gabby was dead when they said in a September 2021 statement that they hoped “the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family.”
“The letter is undated, and while Roberta Laundrie has suggested it was written before Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito left on their trip, a reasonable inference is that it was written after Gabby Petito was murdered, and is evidence that the Laundries and Attorney Bertolino were aware of Gabby Petito’s demise when the statement at issue was released on September 14, 2021,” the statement reads.
In an email to HuffPost on Thursday, Matt Luka, the attorney representing the Laundrie family, said the letter to Brian was “an expression of love between a mother and son” and an attempt to repair their relationship.
“The focus has been on four farcical examples of the lengths someone would go for someone they love. They are demonstrably not intended to be serious because things like baking a file in a cake, going to the moon, and getting new guts are not events that would realistically occur,” Luka wrote. “In hindsight, the wording is unfortunate given what happened between Brian and Gabby, but the letter was never intended as a comment on that.”
Luka included a statement from Roberta Laundrie saying again that the letter was written prior to the trip and urging people to read it in its entirety, rather than focusing on the references she believed were “sensationalized” in court.
“I truly loved my son, and simply wanted to convey to him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him. I am sure people use phrases all the time to express to their loved ones the depths of their love,” Roberta said. “Although I chose words that I thought would be impactful with Brian given our relationship, the letter was in no way related to Gabby.”
A trial is scheduled for May 13, 2024.
The Petito family said the letter is a "potential source of evidence" in a lawsuit against the Laundries.
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