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Mother of man who killed Gabby Petito said in letter she would help son ‘dispose of a body’

May 28, 2023, 11:49 AM

FILE - In this image taken from police body camera video provided by the Moab Police Department, Br...

FILE - In this image taken from police body camera video provided by the Moab Police Department, Brian Laundrie talks to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park in Utah on Aug. 12, 2021. A letter written by Roberta Laundrie to her late son Brian Laundrie can be used by the attorney for Gabby Petito’s parents in preparation for their negligence lawsuit filed against Laundrie’s parents and their New York-based attorney in their high-profile case involving Petito’s death. (Moab Police Department via AP, File)

(Moab Police Department via AP, File)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The mother of the man who killed Gabby Petito told her son in an undated letter that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much, according to copies of the note shared publicly for the first time this week by attorneys for Petito’s parents.

The handwritten note by Roberta Laundrie that says “burn after reading” on the envelope was released after a Florida judge ruled on Wednesday that the letter could be used as evidence in a lawsuit. The Petitos sued Brian Laundrie’s parents, accusing them of knowing that their son had murdered Gabby Petito and helping him with the coverup for nearly a month before her body was found in western Wyoming in September 2021, causing mental anguish, pain and suffering.

The letter reads in part: “We will always love each other. 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.”

Whether the letter was written before or after Brian Laundrie strangled Petito is in dispute between the parents.

Roberta Laundrie claims in a sworn statement in the Florida case that she gave it to her son just before he and Petito left on a cross-country van trip in early June 2021.

This photo provided by attorney Patrick Reilly on May 26, 2023, shows an undated letter written by the mother of Brian Laundrie to her son in which she wrote that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much. Authorities say Laundrie killed his girlfriend Gabby Petito in 2021 before being found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after returning alone to his parents’ home in Florida. An attorney for Brian Laundrie’s mother in Florida claims the letter, which says “burn after reading” on the envelope, was written before the young couple embarked on a cross-country van trip in 2020 and thus, unrelated to the crime. (Patrick Reilly via AP)

Roberta Laundrie and her son were having difficulties in their relationship at the time, three months before Brian Laundrie, 23, killed Petito, 22, the court-filed statement said.

“I was trying to connect with Brian and repair our relationship as he was planning to leave home,” the statement said. “I had hoped this letter would remind him how much I loved him.”

The Petito family expressed doubt about Roberta Laundrie’s claimed timing of her letter, suggesting it was in fact written after Petito’s death.

This photo provided by attorney Patrick Reilly on May 26, 2023, shows an undated letter written by the mother of Brian Laundrie to her son in which she wrote that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much. Authorities say Laundrie killed his girlfriend Gabby Petito in 2021 before being found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after returning alone to his parents’ home in Florida. An attorney for Brian Laundrie’s mother in Florida claims the letter, which says “burn after reading” on the envelope, was written before the young couple embarked on a cross-country van trip in 2020 and thus, unrelated to the crime. (Patrick Reilly via AP)

A “reasonable inference” may be made from the letter that Roberta Laundrie knew of Petito’s demise when the Laundries issued a statement Sept. 14, 2021 — five days before her body was found — saying they hoped she would be reunited with her family, the Petito family said in a statement Thursday.

“We look forward to having a jury determine when the letter was written,” the statement reads.

A search for Brian Laundrie ended with his suicide and discovery of his body in a Florida nature preserve in October 2021.

The letter “may appear to be unfortunately worded, but that was never its intention,” the Laundries’ attorney, Matthew Luka, wrote in a March motion trying to persuade the judge not to allow the letter to be used in the case.

FILE – In this image taken from police body camera video provided by the Moab Police Department, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talks to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. A letter written by Roberta Laundrie to her late son Brian Laundrie can be used by the attorney for Petito’s parents in preparation for their negligence lawsuit filed against Laundrie’s parents and their New York-based attorney in their high-profile case involving Petito’s death. (Moab Police Department via AP, File)

Along with the statements about disposing of a body and “a cake with a file in it,” Roberta Laundrie’s letter tells her son she would “get new guts” if he said he hated hers, and watch the skies for his return if he ever flew to the moon, Luka pointed out in an emailed statement Friday.

The statements were written before the van trip and “demonstrably not intended to be serious” because they “are not events that would realistically occur,” Luka said.

Roberta Laundrie added Friday in a statement through her attorney: “Although I chose words that I thought would be impactful with Brian given our relationship, the letter was in no way related to Gabby.”

Brian Laundrie and Petito were engaged and traveled by van across the U.S. in the summer of 2021, visiting scenic places in Colorado and Utah before heading north. They documented their trip in detail, in real time, on social media.

Police in Moab, Utah, pulled over the van after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb at the entrance to Arches National Park in August 2021. Petito told police she and Laundrie had been fighting. Officers separated the couple for the night and didn’t pursue charges.

Searchers found Petito’s body Sept. 19, 2021, near a campground on the edge of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. A coroner determined she’d been strangled a few weeks earlier.


Associated Press writer Terry Spencer in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.

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Mother of man who killed Gabby Petito said in letter she would help son ‘dispose of a body’