‘I thought it was merciful.’ Brian Laundrie confession claims Gabby’s death was mercy killing

Petito family unhappy contents were released
ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 3:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 8:18 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The confession letter written in a notebook found near the remains of Brian Laundrie in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park have been made public and the attorney for the Petito family is very concerned over the release.

Gabby and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were on a cross-county journey last year, documenting the trip on social media, when Gabby suddenly disappeared on Aug. 25, 2021. Brian returned home -- alone -- to North Port with Gabby’s vehicle.

In September, Petito’s body was found in a remote area in a national park in Wyoming. The cause of death was ruled to be strangulation.

Brian Laundrie disappeared Sept. 17, 2021. His remains were eventually found in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near his home, and the cause of death was ruled as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A notebook near his body contained a confession letter, in which he claims it was a mercy killing after Gabby suffered a head injury after falling.

“Please do not make life harder for my family,” Laundrie wrote. “They lost a son and a daughter. The most wonderful girl in the world. Gabby I’m sorry.”

Laundrie also added that Gabby was in pain and that he thought the killing was “merciful.”

A civil lawsuit currently underway alleges Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew their son had killed their daughter and said nothing; and were conspiring to help him flee. It asks for damages for pain and suffering, accusing the couple of acting “with great malice or great indifference to the rights of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt.”

The suit also contends that the Laundries concealed that their son had confessed to the murder from investigators and Petito’s parents while the search for Gabby was ongoing, intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino released Brian’s confession letter in which he admitted to being responsible for Gabby’s death. Initially, he released the letter to Fox News but also provided a copy to ABC7.

In a statement, Bertolino wrote, “Today the Petito family attorney, Patrick Reilly, and myself met with the FBI in Tampa to sort through and take possession of the personal items that belonged to Gabby and Brian. This was a previously agreed upon exchange to enable both the Petitos and the Laundries to receive what belonged to their respective children.

“As part of this return of property in FBI custody I was given Brian’s notebook. I would like to share with the public the note that the FBI alluded to when they said on January 21, 2022 that Brian claimed responsibility for the death of Gabby Petito. Although I have chosen to release this letter as a matter of transparency I will not be commenting further as there are still proceedings pending in Court. These are Brian’s words.”

Patrick Reilly, attorney for the Petito family, reached out to ABC7 saying he was shocked that within a half-hour of meeting at the FBI’s office, the letter was released to the media.

Three people had been given a copy of the confession letter. Reilly said he, Nichole Schmidt and Steven Bertolino were the only ones who had copies.

“We were shocked to learn that within a half-hour’s time after we left the FBI office in Tampa the letter had been released. It was not released not by the Petitio family or on their behalf,” said Reilly.

Laundrie’s last request was for investigators to pick up his belongings. “Gabby hated people who litter.”

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