Laundrie's Mom Wrote Him a Letter: 'Burn After Reading'

Parents of Gabby Petito want them to turn it over as part of lawsuit
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2023 12:15 AM CST
Laundrie's Mom Wrote Him a Letter: 'Burn After Reading'
Joe Petito, father of Gabby Petito, looks at Nicole Schmidt, Gabby's mother, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.   (Ryan Sun/The Deseret News via AP)

The parents of Gabby Petito want the parents of the man accused of killing her to turn over a letter that came with the instructions, "Burn after reading." The letter was written by Brian Laundrie's mother, Roberta, to her son, and it was found in his backpack after he took his own life, reports CNN. The Petitos are suing the Laundries, and one of the Petitos' lawyers referenced the letter in a court hearing Tuesday. The letter talked about "helping him get out of prison, getting a shovel, and some other things," said Patrick Reilly. More specifically, Roberta Laundrie writes that she "would bring a shovel to help bury a body," per court documents cited by Fox13 in Tampa. The words "burn after reading" were on the envelope of the undated letter, said Reilly.

The implication from the Petito legal team is that Roberta Laundrie wrote to her son after he killed Gabby but before he took his own life. However, the Laundries dispute that. “This document pre-dates Brian and Gabby’s trip so its creation really doesn’t have any relation necessarily to the unfortunate events that unfolded thereafter," said defense attorney P. Matthew Luka. "I know that some of the wording that was used in the letter is unfortunate and might suggest that it has some connection but it doesn’t." However, the Petitos don't believe that, and it sounds like the judge is skeptical, too.

“I don’t see how it wouldn’t be relevant to the action," said Judge Danielle Brewer in Sarasota County Circuit Court. The Petito team will now formally request the letter be turned over as part of the discovery process, per CNN. Its language is "damning," said Reilly, per Scripps News. The Petitos are suing the Laundries for emotional distress, alleging they knew Gabby was dead and where she was buried while they were desperately searching for her. The case is scheduled to go to trial in August 2023. (More Gabby Petito stories.)

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