Roberta Laundrie’s ‘burn after reading’ letter turned over to Petitos

Posted at 11:53 AM, May 25, 2023 and last updated 5:15 PM, May 25, 2023


SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (Court TV) — The infamous letter in which Brian Laundrie’s mother offered to bake him a cake with a shiv in it as well as bring a shovel and garbage bags to get rid of a body is now in the hands of the family of the young woman he killed.

Laundrie "burn after reading" letter.

Roberta Laundrie was ordered by a judge to turn the so-called “burn after reading” letter over to Gabby Petito’s family.

A judge ruled Thursday that the entire contents of the so-called “burn after reading” letter be released. Although portions of the letter had previously been made public, Roberta Laundrie fought to keep it private.

The letter can now be used as evidence in the Petito family’s upcoming civil suit against the Laundries. The lawsuit alleges Brian’s parents knew their son had killed Gabby Petito but stayed silent as a nationwide search ensued.

Christopher and Roberta Laundrie have not been charged with any crimes related to Gabby’s death and disappearance.

Roberta has insisted that she penned the letter before Brian and Gabby’s summer 2021 road trip and that although she did write about shovels, shivs, and body burial, she was making references to the books “The Runaway Bunny” and “Little Bear,” and was simply trying to convey to her son that he could turn to her for anything.

At Thursday’s hearing, Laundrie family attorney Matthew Lukda did admit that while Roberta’s choice of words was unfortunate, it “doesn’t mean the letter is relevant.”

Petito family attorney Pat Reilly held up copies of “The Runaway Bunny” and “Little Bear” in court and announced that neither book referred to shivs, shovels, or body burial.

Gabby’s remains were found in Wyoming’s in Grant Teton National Park on Sept. 19, 2021. Authorities say Brian strangled Gabby, left her body behind, then drove her van to his parents’ house in Florida.

Brian’s body was found in Florida’s Carlton Reserve at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on Oct. 20, 2021. He shot himself and left behind a confession letter.

According to Petito family attorney Pat, Roberta took it upon herself to provide a copy of the “burn after reading” letter to the media yesterday.

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito

FILE – This Aug. 12, 2021, file photo from video provided by the Moab, Utah, Police Department shows Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito talking to police officers after police pulled over their van near the entrance to Arches National Park in Utah. (The Moab Police Department via AP)

Following the judge’s ruling, the Petito family released the following statement via Reilly:

Roberta Laundrie has issued a self serving statement and released the “Burn After Reading” letter after Judge Danielle Brewer yesterday denied her Motion for a Protective Order to preclude a release of the letter to the Petito family. The letter was not released to the press by us. It is interesting that she would do this now, given that she has resisted providing it for the last 5-6 months, she asked for a protective order, asked for a confidentiality agreement in the afternoon of May 24, 2023, and then released it later that day. Attorney Bertolino on behalf of the Laundries also released Brian Laundrie’s confession last Summer within an hour after it was provided to him by the FBI. We have attached a copy of the letter and the outside of the envelope with this statement.

We appreciate Judge Brewer’s ruling in which she recognized the importance of the “Burn After Reading” letter as a potential source of evidence to be used at trial against the Laundries. The letter is undated, and while Roberta Laundrie has suggested it was written before Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito left on their trip, a reasonable inference is that it was written after Gabby Petito was murdered, and is evidence that the Laundries and Attorney Bertolino were aware of Gabby Petito’s demise when the statement at issue was released on September 14, 2021. We look forward to having a jury determine when the letter was written at the time of trial.