Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
Below are updates regarding the Gabby Petito case.
Brian Laundrie’s mother allegedly wrote son a ‘burn after reading’ letter
In a recent February court hearing, an attorney representing Gabby Petito’s parents said Brian Laundrie’s mother wrote her son a letter that he believes indicated she was aware of Petito’s death before Petito’s body was discovered.
Attorney Patrick Reilly said he saw the letter and that it included lines about helping Brian Laundrie “get out of prison, getting a shovel and some other things,” and that the envelope said “burn after reading,” CNN reported.
The Petitos are suing the Laundries for emotional distress, but an attorney representing the Laundrie family says the letter — which he acknowledged existed — is not relevant to the lawsuit.
“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,” defense attorney P. Matthew Luka said, per CNN. “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 Petito-Laundrie case begins in August, according to People.
Lawsuit reveals photo of Gabby Petito
Attorneys representing Gabby Petito’s family in a $50 million negligence lawsuit against police in Moab, Utah, say police ignored Petito’s visible injuries when they interviewed Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, weeks before she was murdered in 2021.
A photo of Petito that was on her cellphone was released Tuesday, Feb. 7, and was reportedly taken on Aug. 12, 2021, before she and Laundrie were stopped by police in Moab following a report that the couple had been fighting.
“The photograph shows blood and marks across Petito’s nose and left eye, which she had pointed to when she was interviewed by police while in the back of a squad car later in the day,” KSL reported.
Attorney Brian Stewart said the photo provides evidence that Petito “‘was grabbed over her face in such a way that her airways were likely obstructed’ and that ‘the seriousness and significance’ of the injury was ‘completely ignored,’” per KSL.
The lawsuit, filed in May, “claimed Laundrie was liable for damages because he caused her death,” The Associated Press reported. A lawyer for Petito’s parents said the money received will go toward the Gabby Petito Foundation, which strives “to address the needs of organizations that support locating missing persons and to provide aid to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through education, awareness, and prevention strategies,” according to the foundation’s website.
“The Petito family lost their daughter and they were also denied the opportunity to confront her killer,” attorney Patrick Reilly wrote in an email, per The Associated Press. “No amount of money is sufficient to compensate the Petito family for the loss of their daughter, Gabby, at the hands of Brian Laundrie.”
Gabby Petito’s parents also filed lawsuit against Moab Police Department
Petito’s parents have also filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab Police Department, claiming police negligence “led to Petito’s death.”
The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 3, 2022, alleges that one of the responding officers to an August 2021 incident in Moab, Utah, is “a domestic abuser,” who has “used authority and threats of physical violence to control and intimidate sexual partners.”
The lawsuit states that the responding officer, Eric Pratt, was “fundamentally biased in his approach to the investigation, identifying with Gabby’s abuser, ignoring the victim and intentionally looking for loopholes to get around the requirements of Utah law and his duty to protect Gabby.”
The police department said it will fight the lawsuit.
“The attorneys for the Petito family seem to suggest that somehow our officers could see into the future, based on this single interaction. In truth, on Aug. 12, no one could have predicted the tragedy that would occur weeks later and hundreds of miles away,” the department said in a statement.
Brian Laundrie confession
Brian Laundrie confesses to killing Gabby Petito: Shortly before taking his life, Brian Laundrie took responsibility for Gabby Petito’s death in a confession written in his notebook, Fox News reported.
“I ended her life,” reads the note, which authorities initially recovered last October, the Deseret News reported. “I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock.”
In the note, which Fox News obtained on June 24, Laundrie claimed Petito had injured herself after falling in Wyoming. He wrote that he heard a “splash and a scream” near where they were camping, and that when he found Petito in the water, she was “freezing cold” and had “a small bump on her forehead that eventually got larger,” Insider reported.
- “We had just came from the blazing hot national parks in Utah,” Laundrie wrote, according to a typed version of the note shared by Fox News. “The temperature had dropped to freezing and she was soaking wet. I carried her as far as I could down the stream towards the car, stumbling exhausted in shock, when my knees buckled and knew I couldn’t safely carry her.”
Laundrie wrote that he eventually started a fire, not knowing how far away from the car they were. He claimed that Petito was “shaking violently” and was “begging for an end to her pain,” per Fox News.
- “I don’t know the extent of Gabby’s injurys (sic). Only that she was in extreme pain,” he continued. “But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn’t go on without her.”
What Gabby Petito’s family says about Brian Laundrie’s confession
Patrick Reilly, a lawyer for the Petito family, told People magazine that Laundrie’s claim that killing Petito was “merciful” and stemmed from a “tragic accident” is “nonsense.”
- “He is writing a letter as though he wants people to feel sorry for him,” Reilly said, per People, adding that there was nothing that could make Petito’s family “feel better about it.”
- Petito’s family is bringing a lawsuit against Laundrie’s family to trial, alleging Laundrie’s parents knew their son killed Petito, the Deseret News reported.
A Gabby Petito Lifetime movie premieres
Just a little over a year after Petito’s death, Lifetime released a movie about the case that gripped the nation, the Deseret News reported.
According to the IMDb synopsis, the film follows Petito’s relationship with Laundrie and “what may have gone wrong during their cross-country trip.”
The film, which premiered Oct. 1 on Lifetime, has faced criticism — predominantly for how quickly it was made. The movie has been “slammed” because some view it as “greedy,” per the New York Post.
The movie was filmed in Utah over the summer and aired Oct. 1, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Day, the Deseret News reported.