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Brian Laundrie’s Mom Insists 'Burn After Reading' Note Had Nothing To Do With Gabby Petito's Murder
Gabby Petito's family is seeking a note Roberta Laundrie wrote to her son Brian in 2021 that included the phrase "burn after reading," but the Laundries say it had nothing to do with Petito's death.
The letter, which Roberta Laundrie instructed her son Brian to “burn after reading,” was written in 2021 prior to Petito’s disappearance and death, she says, according to newly filed court documents cited by CNN.
“I had hoped this letter would remind him how much I loved him,” Roberta Laundrie stated in the newly filed motion seeking to dismiss a civil suit brought forth by Petito’s family.
The motion marks the second attempt by the Laundrie’s to have the civil case dismissed.
The letter in question is at the center of an ongoing civil lawsuit that Petito’s family had filed against the Laundries seeking damages related to their alleged role in the 22-year-old’s disappearance and homicide.
How Did Gabby Petito Die?
In September 2021, Petito’s body was found in Wyoming's Bridger–Teton National Forest after embarking on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie, her fiancé at the time. She’d been fatally strangled, according to investigators. Laundrie, who later killed himself, admitted to Petito’s murder in a notebook, which was found near his partial skeletal remains that were recovered from the Florida wilderness, the FBI said.
Why Are Gabby Petito's Parents Suing Brian Laundrie's Family?
The Petito family’s lawsuit, in part, accuses Brian Laundrie’s family of withholding information during Petito’s missing person’s investigation, which they say exacerbated her parents’ emotional distress in the wake of her death.
Petito’s family had previously described Roberta Laundrie’s letter as “damning,” accusing her of offering to “bring a shovel to help bury a body” in the note addressed to Brian Laundrie. They filed a motion in February to obtain the allegedly undated letter, which was found in Laundrie’s backpack after his remains were found in October, according to attorney Patrick Reilly.
“Please produce a copy of a letter written by Roberta Laundrie to Brian Laundrie, which letter states, in part, that Roberta Laundrie would bring a shovel to help bury a body, and which letter was contained in an envelope which on said envelope stated, ‘Burn after reading,’” Petito’s legal team stated in the motion.
The Laundrie family, however, rejects that assertion, claiming that FBI agents questioned her family about the “burn after reading” letter before her son’s remains were located.
Roberta Laundrie, instead insisted in her latest motion that two children's books — “Runaway Bunny” and “Little Bear” — were the inspirations for writing the letter to her son.
“Brian and I shared a love of stories and some of the language in the letter was using similar phrases to describe the depth of a mother’s love,” Roberta Laudrie added, per court filings.
Laundrie also claimed that Gabby Petito had given Brian Laundrie a book entitled “Burn After Writing” which “contains printed questions to which the reader responds by writing their answers on the page. The back of the book instructs the reader to create a secret book and then destroy it, or "burn after writing,” according to court records cited by CNN.
“Brian, Gabby and I often joked about this book and the importance of being able to express yourself,” the motion on behalf of Roberta Laundrie stated. "If you were embarrassed or simply did not want anyone to know your thoughts or feelings then the book offered the perfect solution by telling you to burn it. This is where my message to Brian came from and I wrote on the cover of the letter for Brian to ‘Burn After Reading.’”
Roberta Laundrie goes on to conclude in the document that the letter was meant for her son’s eyes only — and that her words were intended to be private, hence her rationale for suggesting Brian Laundrie “burn after reading.”
“In some way, I did not want anyone else to read it as I know it is not the type of letter a mother writes to her adult son and I did not want to embarrass Brian,” she stated.
P. Matthew Luka, an attorney for Laundrie’s parents, said the letter is irrelevant to the lawsuit and they shouldn’t have to produce it.
For more on the Gabby Petito case, watch The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media on Peacock.