When police looking for Gabby Petito’s killer found the decomposed body of her boyfriend Brian Laundrie in a Florida swamp they also found a damning letter in his backpack.
The letter to Brian from his mother, which was marked “burn after reading,” contain instructions on getting a shovel and digging a shallow grave.
Now, some 18 months after Gabby’s death, her family are demanding to see the letter as part of their court case for “emotional distress” against the Laundrie family.
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They point out that during the period that Gaby was missing, the Laundries refused to return calls or texts, and offered no help at all.
But the Laundrie family simply say they were under no obligation to do anything for the Petitos.
Patrick Reilly, the lawyer acting for Gabby’s parents, told a Sarasota County Circuit Court that he was shown the letter at an FBI regional office and he remembered details “including helping [Brian] get out of prison, getting a shovel and some other things.”
Gabby is believed to have been killed some time in late August 2021, while she was on a road trip with her fiancé Brian.
Her remains were found in a shallow grave in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest and an autopsy found that she had been bludgeoned and strangled to death.
Before taking his own life, Brian wrote in a notebook confessing to killing the 22-year-old YouTuber.
Missing YouTuber Gabby Petito mystery deepens as fiancé Brian Laundrie goes missing
Laundrie claimed it was a mercy killing, saying he had killed his fiancée after she had fallen and injured herself: "I ended her life,” he wrote. “I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but now I see all the mistakes I made."
He detailed how he had attempted to convince Gabby’s family that she was still alive by sending text messages from her phone. He also used her bank card to give the same impression.
The killer then returned to his parents’ home where he stayed for just under a fortnight while the Petitos grew increasingly concerned about their missing daughter.
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When police went to Laundrie’s home to question Brian his parents refused to let them in, instead directing the officers to contact their lawyer.
A few days later, Brian disappeared on a solo “camping trip” and police launched a search for him.
While police were looking for Laundrie, there was widespread speculation that he had been hiding in an underground lair in his parents’ garden.
A viral TikTok video apparently shot from a drone showed Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, gardening at their Florida home.
As Roberta Laundrie bends over near a flowerbed, armchair detectives claimed to be able to see a hand reaching out from a secret trap-door and handing her something.
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The Petito family’s lawyer has demanded a copy of the letter to use in evidence in the court case against the Laundries.
In court papers, the lawyer wrote: “This request would also include the note that Roberta Laundrie wrote to Brian Laundrie which she offered to bring a shovel to help bury the body.
"This note was released to the custody of [the Laundries’ lawyer] on Friday, June 24, 2022 by the FBI,”
In response, the Laundrie family’s legal team has insisted that the note had nothing to do with Gabby’s death.
They stated: “This document pre-dates Brian and Gabby’s trip so its creation really doesn’t have any relation necessarily to the unfortunate events that unfolded thereafter.
"I know that some of the wording that was used in the letter is unfortunate and might suggest that it has some connection but it doesn’t”.
The case is scheduled for trial in August.
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