The letter Brian Laundrie’s mother wrote to her son, which she labelled “burn after reading,” has been released to the public.
“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 Laundrie wrote in the letter to her son, who confessed to killing his girlfriend Gabby Petito before taking his own life in 2021.
The letter was released Wednesday after Florida Judge Danielle Brewer determined it could be relevant to the case and that the Petito family should get a copy. The ruling was made during the ongoing emotional distress lawsuit brought against the Laundries by Gabby’s parents.
“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,” Roberta wrote in the note, professing her unwavering devotion to her son.
“If you fly to the moon, I will be watching the skies for your re-entry,” she continued. “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.”
The letter also quotes from Romans in the Bible. “Nothing can separate us; not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not threats, not even sin, not the thinkable or unthinkable can get between us,” it reads.
The letter first made headlines earlier this year when its existence turned up in a motion filed in court by Gabby’s parents.
In February, Patrick Reilly, the lawyer for Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, claimed the letter was retrieved from Brian’s backpack when his body was found in a Florida swamp. Reilly said he saw the letter at a regional FBI office.
Also in the backpack was a notebook in which the 23-year-old confessed to murdering Gabby during their 2021 cross-country road trip.
“I ended her life. 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,” he wrote.
In a statement to CNN from Roberta Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, she said the letter was written before Brian and Gabby set out on their tragic road trip.
“I truly loved my son, and simply wanted to convey to him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him,” she said. “I am sure people use phrases all the time to express to their loved ones the depths of their love. Although I chose words that I thought would be impactful with Brian given our relationship, the letter was in no way related to Gabby,” she said, claiming further in court documents that she wrote the letter while she and Brian “were experiencing a difficult period” in their relationship.
“I ask that you read it in its entirety, and understand that the letter contains other phrases besides those highlighted by Pat Reilly for sensationalism and to bolster his case,” she added.
The Petitos are suing the Laundries for emotional distress in connection with Gabby’s death during the road trip. They are seeking $30,000 in damages for mental anguish suffered due to what they describe as deceit by the Laundries.
Gabby’s parents successfully sued the Laundries once before, claiming the Laundries had knowledge that Petito was dead, but did not tell anyone. In November 2022, the Petito family was awarded US$3 million in the wrongful death lawsuit.
Gabby disappeared in the summer of 2021 after a month-long cross-country trip with Brian across the United States. She was last seen alive on Aug. 26, 2021.
Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11, saying Gabby had not been responding to calls or texts for more than a week after Brian had reportedly returned to his family’s home in North Port, Fla., without her.
Brian returned home on Sept. 1 in the white van that the couple had rented for the trip.
In mid-September, Gabby’s remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. A medical examiner confirmed she died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.
By that time, Brian was missing. His parents told police their son disappeared on Sept. 17, three days after they said they had last seen him.
He was named as a person of interest in Gabby’s death, and a weeks-long, nationwide manhunt ensued. It ended when his remains were found along a trail in the swampy Florida wilderness on Oct. 21.
A lawyer for the Laundrie family later confirmed that Brian died by suicide.
— with files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto
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