The mother of Brian Laundrie, the man who killed van-life influencer Gabby Petito before dying by suicide in a Florida swamp, allegedly told her son she'd bake him a cake with a shiv inside if he went to prison, according to the Petito family's attorney.
The Petitos sued the Laundries after Gabby was found dead in the Teton National Forest in 2021.
The lawsuit is demanding that the Laundries provide a "burn after reading" letter that Brian’s mother, Roberta Laundrie, allegedly wrote him prior to his disappearance, according to WFLA.
“The letter in question, written by Roberta Laundrie to Brian Laundrie references bringing a shovel to help bury a body, and baking a cake with a shiv in it should Brian Laundrie go to prison," the Petito family's attorney, Pat Reilly, wrote. "A reasonable inference is that the letter was written at a time when Gabrielle Petito was as yet unburied, and Brian Laundrie could go to jail for the crime of murder.”
Mr Reilly said he has seen the letter, and that it was initially collected by the FBI during their preliminary investigation into Gabby’s disappearance. He said the FBI returned the letter to the Laundries, and noted it had the words "burn after reading" written on the envelope.
Ms Laundrie has not refuted the existence of the letter, but notes it is undated and has said the letter was written before Gabby was murdered.
“The purpose of the letter was to reach out to Brian while he and I were experiencing a difficult period in our relationship,” Ms Laundrie wrote in a court motion to protect the letter from release. “Brian and I always had a very open and communicative relationship and in the months prior to the trip our relationship had become strained. 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.”
“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," she wrote. "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.”
Mr Reilly has rejected her timeline and has asked the court not to take the mother at her word.
In the summer of 2021, Brian and Gabby were dating and took a road trip in a converted van from their home in Florida to the western US. Gabby was living with Brian and his family at the time.
Brian returned home without Gabby. Her family became concerned when she did not return with Brian and even more concerned when the Laundries stopped speaking to them or answering any questions about their daughter.
Furious spectators from around the nation camped out on the streets and sidewalks surrounding the Laundrie home, some with megaphones demanding they assist the police in the search for Gabby, and later in the search for their son.
Shortly before Gabby’s remains were found, Brian slipped past the police and disappeared, kicking off a nationwide manhunt that included Dog the Bounty Hunter. In reality, brian had wandered into a nearby wilderness park where he died by suicide. Police could not initially locate his body when they searched there due to obfuscation from heavy rains. When they did finally locate Brian, they found only skeletal remains intact.
Forensic investigators found a water damaged notebook among Brian’s remains, and managed to recover an admission that he killed Gabby during their roadtrip.