Brian Laundrie’s mother’s chilling “burn after reading” note in which she promised to bring her son a shovel and garbage bags to get rid of a body was finally made public on Wednesday.
“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 Brian, who confessed to killing his girlfriend Gabby Petito before taking his own life in 2021.
“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,” she wrote in the note.
“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.”
She then quotes from the Bible with a verse from Romans 8:38.
The letter was made public after Florida Judge Danielle Brewer ruled Wednesday that it was admissible as evidence in the emotional distress lawsuit brought against the Laundries by the parents of Gabby, Nichole Petito and Joe Schmidt.
Roberta Laundrie told Fox News that the letter was penned before her 23-year-old son and Gabby, 22, left for a cross country road trip in June 2021, months before her slain body was found in September.
In a previously filed affidavit, Roberta Laundrie claimed she wrote the letter “to reach out to Brian while he and I were experiencing a difficult period in our relationship.” She said the “burn after reading” label was a reference to a book Gabby had given him titled “Burn After Writing” which encouraged the owner to write self-expressive letters to themselves and then burn them afterward.
As for the details about shovels, burying bodies and baking files into cakes to be sent to her son in prison, Roberta Laundrie wrote that her letter contained references to Brian’s favorite childhood books (“Little Bear,” and “The Runaway Bunny”) and phrases that “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 Laundries’ attorney, Matthew Lukda, argued during Wednesday’s hearing that it was happenstance that the letter appears to contain references to murder and prison time — saying his client’s “choice of words in hindsight are unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean the letter is relevant.”
But Schmidt and Nichole Petito’s attorney Pat Reilly held the bear and bunny books up in the courtroom on Wednesday and said after combing through them he’d found no references to bodies or shovels.
Reilly also said that though the letter itself did not cause distress to Gabby’s parents, it could serve as proof that they knew about her death when they released the September 2021 statement that suggested hope she might be alive.
Judge Brewer finally ruled in favor of Schmidt and Nichole Petito to allow the letter to be admissible. At the end of the hearing, Lukda handed over a number of copies to the prosecution.
Nichole Petito and Schmidt allege in the suit the Laudries knew their son had murdered Gabby, but rather than disclosing their knowledge they released a statement expressing their “hope” Gabby would be “re-united” with them.
That statement was released through the Laundrie’s lawyer — Steven Bertolino, also named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit — on Sept. 14, 2021.
Five days later, Gabby’s strangled body was found in Wyoming.
Brian’s skeletal remains were discovered on Oct. 20, 2021, in Florida. A medical examiner determined that he shot himself on the left side of the head and animals then partially ravaged his body.
Brian was found to have left behind a lengthy note about Gabby that stated in part: “I ended her life.”
“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted,” he went on, “but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock.”
Petito’s parents claimed that if the Laundries and Bertolino knew she was dead by their son’s hand when they released that statement, it constituted an intentional infliction of emotional distress. They filed a civil lawsuit on those grounds last year.
Lukda also said in the Wednesday hearing that the undated letter was written before Gabby and Brian ever left for their fateful western road trip in June 2021, and asked that it be kept private so that its contents not be misconstrued as incriminating.
Lukda argued that the letter itself had not caused any emotional distress to Petito and Schmidt, and that therefore it should not be admissible in a trial.