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Thursday, June 1, 2023

'Burn after reading' letter: Brian Laundrie's mother offered shovel, garbage bags to dispose of body if needed

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Brian Laundrie’s mother, Roberta, offered her son a shovel and garbage bags if he needed to dispose of a body, according to the letter obtained by Gabby Petito’s family after a judge’s ruling Wednesday in Florida.

The infamous “burn after reading” letter, which had become a focal point of the civil lawsuit filed by Petito’s family against the Laundries and their attorney Steven Bertolino, was released to WFLA by the Petito family Wednesday evening. The release comes after Judge Danielle Brewer denied a motion of protection against the letter’s inclusion in the discovery process as the two families head to a civil trial next year.

Here is a transcript of the letter:

“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 will or could ever divide us no matter what we do, or where we go or what we say – 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. If you fly to the moon, I will be watching the skies for your re-entry. 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. ‘Therefore I am certain that neither death nor life, nor angels nor the ruling spirits, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers from above nor powers from below, nothing in the entire create world can separate our love.’ Neither hostile powers nor messengers of heaven nor monarchs of earth. Nothing has the power to separate us…’ – Romans 8:39 (extended version!).

“(Nothing can separate us: not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not threats, not even sin, not the thinkable or unthinkable can get between us.) ~ Not time. Not miles and miles and miles. ~”

The letter was encased in an envelope titled, “Brian Christopher Laundrie (burn after reading).” It was discovered by the FBI in Laundrie’s backpack near his remains at Florida’s Carlton Reserve in 2021 and taken as federal evidence before being returned to the Laundries last year.

The letter makes no mention of Gabby Petito. It also does not include a date or a reference to when it might have been written.

In an affidavit written to the court, Roberta Laundrie claimed the letter was written before her son and Petito’s cross-country road trip that began in July 2021.

“Although I do not know the exact date I wrote the letter, I do know that I wrote it and gave it to Brian before Brian and Gabby left Florida for New York, which was on June 2, 2021,” said Roberta Laundrie.

She said in the affidavit that she and her son shared a love for books such as “The Runaway Bunny” and “Little Bear.” She claims one such book, “Burn After Writing,” was often the subject of a joke between her, her son and Petito and is the reason she wrote “burn after reading” on the envelope that contained the letter to her son.

Roberta Laundrie admits that her letter does contain references that some would think are about her son and Petito, however, she claims there is “no connection” between her words and what happened to the couple.

“While I used words that seem to have a connection with Brian’s actions and his taking of Gabby’s life, I never would have fathomed the events that unfolded months later between Brian and Gabby would reflect the words in my letter,” Roberta Laundrie explained. “The words in the letter could never have been a comment on that tragic situation as they were written so many months before. My words to Brian were meant to convey my love and support for my son through a light-hearted and quirky reminder that my love for him was not diminished and could not be shaken by the miles of separation we would soon be faced with.”

Attorney Pat Reilly, at Wednesday’s court hearing in Sarasota County Circuit Court, argued it should be for a jury to decide the letter’s relevance. Brewer sided with the plaintiffs and a copy of the letter was given to Reilly after the hearing ended.

Petito’s family filed a lawsuit last year accusing the Laundries of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury trial is slated for May 2024.

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