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Roberta Laundrie's "burn after reading" letter to her son can be used in Petito family's civil suit, judge rules

Judge allows letter by Brian Laundrie's mom into civil suit
Judge allows letter by Brian Laundrie's mom into civil suit 02:02

NEW YORK -- Gabby Petito's parents were issued a big victory in court after a judge ruled a letter Brian Laundrie's mother wrote to her son that said "burn after reading" will be admitted into evidence. 

The Petitos sued the Laundries for emotional distress and now the letter, found in Brian Laundrie's backpack, is part of the case. 

"You are my boy. Nothing can make me stop loving you," Roberta Laundrie wrote. "If you're in jail, I will bake a cake with a file in it. If you need to dispose of a body, I will show up with a shovel and garbage bags."

The Petito's attorneys say the letter proves Roberta Laundrie knew her son killed Petito and offered to help cover it up. But lawyers for the Laundries say the letter was undated and does not refer to Petito's death. 

"I think it's a logical ruling," said David Schwartz, a criminal defense attorney. "It talks about protecting the son at all costs. It talks about helping the son dispose of a body and that goes to the heart of intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Brian Laundrie's body was found in a nature preserve not far from his parents' home in Florida in October 2021. The FBI said he left behind writings "claiming responsibility" for Petito's death. 

Petito was reported missing before her body was found. Now, legislators say a new law is needed to track people who cannot be found. 

"It kind of came about, we saw what happened with the Gabby Petito situation," said Assembly Member Ed Flood, of Port Jefferson. 

Flood introduced legislation that would require local law enforcement to establish a "Teal Alert" for missing adults, including victims of domestic violence, who are believed to be in danger. 

"It's an area for the age group that's just not being utilized in New York state. We have it for children, we have it for seniors. We have nothing in there really for missing adults, especially on a nationwide search," said Flood. 

The bill has been introduced in the Assembly and Senate. 

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