‘I Will Show Up With a Shovel’: Inside the Letter that Brian Laundrie’s Mother Sent Him

The undated letter, written by Brian Laundrie's mother, allegedly makes references to a shovel, burying a body and helping her son get out of prison.


“If you’re in jail I will bake a cake and put a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body. I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags."

Those are the words that Roberta Laundrie wrote to her son, Brian, in an undated handwritten letter, according to court testimony.

But when were those words written? Roberta Laundrie says she wrote it months before Brian was accused of killing his fiancé, Gabby Petito.

Gabby's parents believe that she wrote the letter to her son after finding out that he had killed her on a cross-country trip.

On Wednesday, a judge in Sarasota County ruled that the letter can be considered as potential evidence in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Gabby Petito against the parents of Brian Laundrie.

Last year, Petito's parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, filed a civil lawsuit against Chris and Roberta Laundrie, accusing them of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Petito's family alleges that the letter is proof that the Laundries knew that Gabby had been killed in 2021. They said it proves they even offered to help their son cover up her murder, rather than sharing information about Gabby's fate with authorities — or with the Petitos.

But in an affidavit, Roberta Laundrie said that the letter was sent months before Petito went missing — and had nothing to do with the controversial case. She claimed that the letter referenced several books that she and her son had read, and was not to be taken seriously.

"The purpose of the letter was to reach out to Brian while he and I were experiencing a difficult period in our relationship," Roberta Laundrie claimed. "I hoped the letter would remind him how much I loved him."

During Wednesday's 3 1/2-hour hearing, attorneys for both sides sparred about the admissibility of the letter. While the Petitos claimed that the letter was vital to the case, Laundries' attorneys argued that it would be a violation of her privacy.

The Laundries did not attend Wednesday's hearing.

After hearing both sides, the judge ruled that the letter will not be excluded from the lawsuit.

Petito, 22, vanished in August 2021 while on a cross-country trip with Laundrie. The couple had spent the summer traveling together in a white van together. They documented their adventures on YouTube.

But on Sept. 1, Laundrie quietly returned to his parents' Florida home — without Petito.

Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11. After an exhaustive search, Petito's body was discovered in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19. She had been strangled.

Laundrie was considered a person of interest in the murder.

Before he could be charged, he was found dead in a Florida park near his parents' home. Authorities found a notebook — and the letter from his mother — among his personal effects.

The civil case will go to trial later this year.

Start your day with the biggest stories and exclusive reporting from The Messenger Morning, our weekday newsletter.
By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use.
Sign Up.