Gabby Petito’s parents now have a copy of a letter Brian Laundry’s mother wrote to her son, which included references to getting a shovel and burying a body.
Attorneys for both sides argued in a Sarasota County, Florida, courtroom Wednesday over whether the letter is relevant to the lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents against Laundry’s parents and the laundry’s former attorney.
The envelope containing the letter – which is undated – said “burn after reading” and was recovered from Brian Laundrie’s backpack when his remains were found in October 2021.
“As we all know, the letter refers to burying a body, bringing a shovel and burying a body,” Petito family attorney Patrick Reilly said in court Wednesday. “By the way, these are criminal acts that Roberta Laundrie has said she would commit.”
The Petitos sued the laundromat for emotional distress related to Gabby Petito’s death while traveling in the western United States with Brian Laundrie, her fiancé. Laundrie returned home from the trip without Petito and disappeared several weeks later.
Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest in September 2021, and her death was ruled a homicide by manual strangulation. Before taking his own life, Brian Laundrie wrote in a notebook that he was responsible for her death, according to the FBI. His remains were found the next month in an area not far from his parents’ home in North Port, Florida.
Attorneys for Brian Laundre’s parents fought not to turn over the letter, arguing it is not relevant to the civil lawsuit filed by Petito’s parents.
In a statement filed before the hearing, Roberta Laundrie wrote that she does not know the exact date of the letter, but that she wrote it before Brian left with Gabby Petito on their trip in hopes that it would help repair her relationship with her son.
After a long back-and-forth in court on Wednesday, both sides agreed that a confidentiality order was not necessary to keep the letter sealed after 12th Circuit Judge Danielle Brewer ruled that the letter could be relevant to the case and the plaintiff’s lawyers should at least get a copy.
“Your Honor, I think at this point we probably wouldn’t be in favor of a non-disclosure agreement on this matter either, just because Mr. Reilly has just written the two worst parts of the letter in public, so I mean, there’s— we would address that throughout the trial,” Laundry’s attorney P. Matthew Luka said Wednesday.
However, it is unclear whether the letter will be published.
Reilly told CNN he would consult with Petito’s parents and make a decision on whether to share it with the press.
CNN also reached out to Luka, but did not immediately hear back.
The lawsuit alleges outrageous conduct of intentional infliction of emotional distress by Roberta and Christopher Laundrie during the time Gabby was missing. The couple refused to return calls or texts to the Petito family as they frantically tried to find their daughter, it said.
The laundromat has argued in court cases that it owed no duty to Petito’s family.
Earlier in the hour-long hearing, attorneys for the Laundries and their former attorney Steven Bertolino, who is also a named defendant in the lawsuit, made motions to dismiss the civil suit. The judge said she would rule on the motions to dismiss in a written order posted on the docket.