VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Brian Laundrie’s mother 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 Now’s JB Biunno 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 8:38 (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).”
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 a statement released by their Florida attorney Matthew Luka Wednesday night, the Laundries maintain their insistence the letter has nothing to do with Gabby Petito.
“The letter to Brian was written prior to Gabby and Brian leaving my home for their trip,” said Roberta Laundrie in the statement. “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.”
Exactly how the letter was obtained by the FBI is unclear. While Petito attorney Pat Reilly most recently said it was discovered by the FBI in Laundrie’s backpack near his remains, Bertolino says the letter had already been in the FBI’s possession for weeks when the manhunt for Laundrie ended at Florida’s Carlton Reserve.
In an affidavit written to the court, Roberta claimed the letter was written before Brian and Gabby’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.
Roberta said in the affidavit she and Brian 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, Brian and Gabby and is the reason she wrote “burn after reading” on the envelope that contained the letter to her son.
Roberta 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 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.