Did the mother of Brian Laundrie, the suspected killer of Gabby Petito, offer to assist her son in covering up the crime?
That’s what Petito’s family is alleging. In a Dec. 5 letter that became public record on Dec. 20, the lawyer for the Petito family said Laundrie’s mother offered to lend him a shovel after Petito was killed, Fox News reported.
Petito family attorney Pat Reilly, in the letter to Laundrie family lawyer Matt Luka, detailed what documents the parents of Brian Laundrie must hand over in a civil suit against them.
“This request certainly would also include the note that Roberta Laundrie wrote to Brian Laundrie, [in] which she offered to bring a shovel to help bury the body,” Reilly wrote.
“The note was released to the custody of Mr. [Steven] Bertolino on Friday, June 24, 2022 by the FBI.”
Reilly says the note was written after Petito was slain in August 2021 in Wyoming. The Laundrie family contends the note was written before the trip.
Petito, an aspiring van-life influencer, disappeared sometime in late August during a trip with Laundrie, her boyfriend. He returned to his home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1, 2021 without her; 10 days later, according to The New York Times, her parents filed a missing persons report.
Laundrie quickly became a suspect after it was revealed police had attended to a domestic disturbance between the two in Moab City, Utah, on Aug. 12, 2021. According to WABC-TV, a police report said that they were dispatched after a report of disorderly conduct and that the pair were “engaged in some sort of altercation.”
Petito’s body was discovered in Wyoming on Sept. 19. At the same time, police were searching for Laundrie, who had become a “person of interest.”
That notebook and other documents — including a letter titled “burn after reading,” according to Reilly — have already been handed over to Petito’s family.
“I don’t feel comfortable summarizing the letter,” Reilly told Fox News. “The content is very specific and best read when available. If my belief as to the time it was written is accurate, it shows that at least Roberta Laundrie knew of Gabby’s murder before Gabby’s body was located. The rest of the notebook contained letters to his family.”
While the letter was undated, Reilly added that “the content of the letter seems to indicate that it was written after Gabby’s death.”
According to a Dec. 6 report from Tampa’s WTVT, the lawsuit alleges that Chris and Roberta Laundrie may have been alerted to Gabby Petito’s murder by their son less than 24 hours after the killing, and the Laundrie family lawyer, Steven Bertolino, may have been notified within 72 hours.
Bertolino issued a Sept. 14 statement saying, “It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.”
The lawsuit seeks $300,000 for “pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life experienced in the past and to be experienced in the future.”
“For the Laundries and Steven Bertolino to express their ‘hope’ that Gabrielle Petito was located and reunited with her family, at a time when they knew she had been murdered by Brian Laundrie was beyond outrageous,” the Petito family said in its court filing.
After the latest reports, however, Bertolino accused Reilly of trying to “further sensationalize” the murder.
“Attorney Reilly and his clients are entitled to allege what they want in court filings, but their allegations are not based on fact but on conjecture only,” Bertolino told Fox News. “The letter in question was written prior to Brian and Gabby leaving Florida and has nothing to do with this case.”
The trial is scheduled for August 2023 — two years after Petito’s death.
Of course, closure is a ridiculous concept after any murder, particularly when Laundrie denied Petito’s family justice by taking his own life in an act of cowardice. If his parents knew what happened to Gabby Petito, however, and didn’t act, a court judgment against them can give some modicum of relief to a family that’s suffered through one of the most public and painful crime cases in recent memory.
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