Gabby Petito’s parents blasted Roberta Laundrie a day after the release of a highly anticipated letter she sent to her son Brian, the only suspect in Petito’s strangling death at a Wyoming campsite in August 2021.
“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,” Petito’s parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, said in a statement through their attorney Pat Reilly Thursday.
The two sides are at odds over when the letter was written and whether it is of evidentiary value in a civil lawsuit between the families.
“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 five to six 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,” Petito and Schmidt continued. “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.”
The Laundries argue it was created before their son left on an ill-fated road trip with Petito and had nothing to do with her murder. The Petitos counter that it was written after Petito’s death and that it is evidence the Laundries knew about the crime before her body was found. Both sides told the court Wednesday they opposed a potential confidentiality agreement and asked the judge for a ruling on whether it should be disclosed.
The judge said it should be, and copies of the letter were shared with at least three outlets, including Fox News Digital, Wednesday after the judge ordered the Laundries to share it with Petito’s parents.
“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,” Petito’s parents’ statement continued. “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.”
Roberta Laundrie broke her silence about the case Wednesday in a statement to Fox News Digital after the letter was made public. The letter revealed she promised her late son 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. 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,” she wrote. “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.”
The letter was made public after a hearing in the civil lawsuit brought by Petito’s parents against Chris and Roberta Laundrie and their attorney Steve Bertolino.
Through attorney Matt Luka, Roberta Laundrie told Fox News Digital that she “truly loved” her son.
“The letter to Brian was written prior to Gabby and Brian leaving my home for their trip,” she said, in her first public remarks about the case since the saga began. “Previously, I submitted an affidavit to the court for very limited purposes but that is not the whole story. Now that the letter has been shared, I ask that you read it in its entirety, and understand that the letter contains other phrases besides those highlighted by Pat Reilly for sensationalism and to bolster his case.”
“I truly loved my son, and simply wanted to convey to him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him. I am sure people use phrases all the time to express to their loved ones the depths of their love. Although I chose words that I thought would be impactful with Brian given our relationship, the letter was in no way related to Gabby. Please read the entire letter before you believe the hype put out by Pat Reilly.”
After months of disputes over the letter, Judge Brewer scheduled the hearing for Wednesday afternoon. The judge also considered motions from the defense to dismiss the case but said her decision on those would come at a later date.
“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 wrote in an affidavit filed in a Sarasota court in March.
A central claim in the civil lawsuit is that the Laundries and their attorney, Bertolino, were aware of Petito’s death at the time of a Sept. 14, 2021 public statement on what was at the time a missing person investigation.
It reads, in part, “On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family.”
Her remains would be discovered on Sept. 19 at a campsite near Jackson, Wyoming, where she was last seen alive. Brian Laundrie allegedly killed her around Aug. 28.
Laundrie drove home to Florida in Petito’s van and arrived at his parents’ house on Sept. 1.
Schmidt reported Petito missing 10 days later, and the Laundries declined to cooperate with investigators. By Sept. 13, Brian Laundrie had vanished.
He was found on Oct. 20 – dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and severely decomposed after spending weeks undiscovered in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near his parents’ home, according to the FBI.
In a handwritten confession found near his remains, first published by Fox News Digital, Brian Laundrie declared, “I ended her life.“
“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made,” he wrote. “I panicked. I was in shock.”