A letter that Brian Laundrie’s mother wrote to her son vowing to help him dispose of a body before he went on a fatal roadtrip with fiancée Gabby Petito has been released to her family.
The “burn after reading” letter is at the centre of a civil emotional distress lawsuit brought by Petito’s parents against the Laundrie family alleging they were complicit in their daughter’s murder.
On Wednesday, the Petito’s attorney Patrick Reilly told a judge in Sarasota, Florida, that the letter was evidence of “criminal acts” by Brian’s mother Roberta, according to CNN.
The Laundries’ attorney had argued that the letter should not be part of the case, claiming that her “unfortunate” choice of words were not relevant to the lawsuit.
Florida Judge Danielle Brewer ruled the letter was admissable evidence in the case, prompting its public release by the family.
Petito’s body was discovered on 19 September 2021 in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming after a nationwide search that attracted global attention.
Laundrie returned to his parent’s Florida home without notifying her family or authorities, and later went on the run after being declared a person of interest.
His remains was discovered in the nearby Carlton Reserve a month later. A medical examiner would later rule that Laundrie had shot himself in the head.
The letter was recovered from a backpack found near his body inside an envelope that said “burn after reading”.
Ms Laundrie wrote to her son: “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.
“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.”
Ms Laundrie has previously said in an affidavit that she wrote the letter to her son when the pair were “experiencing a difficult period in our relationship”.
She said that the language used in the letter pertaining to disposing of a body “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”.
The Petitos claim in their suit that the Laundries were aware that their son had killed Gabby even as they released a statement saying they hoped she would be found.
They claim that the Laundries ignored their calls and texts while they were frantically searching for their daughter.
Instead, they claim that the Laundries knew he had killed Petito and took him on a final camping trip as a family – while refusing to put the Petito family out of their agony by revealing what they knew.
The Laundrie’s former attorney Steven Bertolino is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The Laundrie family deny any knowledge of what had happened and have previously said they believe they “did everything the right way” in the wake of the couple’s disappearance.
In November, the Petitos were awarded $3m from Brian Laundrie’s estate after taking a separate wrongful death lawsuit.
The Petito family have also filed a $50m wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department.
Moab police officers pulled the couple over on 12 August after receiving a 911 call from a witness saying they had seen Laundrie hitting Petito.
The lawsuit accuses the police department, three Moab police officers and 10 other individuals of “negligent failure”.