Gabby Petito's family, Laundries reach deal, will avoid civil trial

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The family of Gabby Petito reached an agreement with the family of Brian Laundrie and their attorney during mediation on Wednesday and will avoid a civil trial, family members told Nexstar’s WFLA.

The family held discussions at a secret location in Venice, Florida.

“After a long day of mediation, a confidential resolution has been reached between the parents of Gabby Petito, the parents of Brian Laundrie and attorney Steven Bertolino to which all parties reluctantly agreed in order to avoid further legal expenses and prolonged personal conflict,” Petito’s family said in a statement released by the family attorney. “Our hope is to close this chapter of our lives to allow us to move on and continue to honor the legacy of our beautiful daughter, Gabby.”

In a statement to, Bertolino said:

“Christopher and Roberta Laundrie and I participated in mediation with the Petito family and the civil lawsuit has now been resolved. The terms of the resolution are confidential, and we look forward to putting this matter behind us.”

Gabby Petito’s parents filed a lawsuit the Laundries and Attorney Steven Bertolino for intentional infliction of emotional distress. They claimed the Laundries were aware of Petito’s murder soon after the 22-year-old’s death in August 2021 and chose to do nothing other than issue a statement through Bertolino expressing hope she would be found.

Petito was found dead Sept. 19, 2021 in Grand Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Brian Laundrie took is own life in late October 2021.

In June, a judge denied a motion from the Laundries to dismiss the lawsuit.

The trial, which has produced more than a thousand pages of new court documents, was scheduled for May 13, 2024 in Venice.

‘Gabby’s gone’

Recently released court documents revealed the phone calls Brian Laundrie made to his parents after Gabby Petito was murdered. Documents described the phone calls as “extremely frantic” revealed that Brian Laundrie was “very upset.”

In his deposition, Chris Laundrie admits that Aug. 29, 2021, two days after Petito is believed to have been murdered, is the day when everything “hit the fan.” 

Chris said Brian called him in a frantic state and said “Gabby’s gone.” Chris claims he has “no idea” what his son meant and after being asked for help, he called Bertolino. 

“And what did he say to you?” Chris Laundrie was asked during questioning.

“I asked him, you know, how is he doing, and he—you know, he was not calm and he got very excited and told me things had—you know, ‘Gabby’s gone’ and he got very frantic. Everything was frantic and quick. So, you know, Gabby’s gone,” Chris Laundrie responded.

“Meaning what?” the attorney asked.

“Well, I have no idea what he meant,” Chris said.

Roberta Laundrie faced possible arrest

Days after Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming, Bertolino wanted to hold a news conference to address the public scrutiny. However, Bertolino said the FBI urged against the press conference, stating that there was the possibility of Roberta Laundrie being charged, according to court documents.

Following Bertolino’s decision to cancel the Laundrie press conference, Roberta was never charged. Christopher Laundrie, Brian’s father, is never mentioned by Bertolino as facing the possibility of being arrested by the FBI.

Bertolino says the FBI tipped their hand on what Roberta could have been charged with.

“I discussed it with Roberta and we were at a loss as to what they could possibly be charging her with and I had—I don’t want to misspeak but I believe I had back and forth conversations with Bryan Gee as to what, what is here and he could not tell me. All he would tell me was that he believed it was something electronic. It was something they believed Roberta had done with electronics.”

Bertolino adds that his only theory on what electronics-related charge the FBI could use to arrest Roberta was accompanying her son to a cell phone store to purchase a new phone after he had returned from Wyoming without Petito. Bertolino indicated to Gee purchasing a cell phone is something many parents—including himself—routinely do with their children.

‘Burn after reading’

Roberta Laundrie offer Brian a shovel and garbage bags if he needed to dispose of a body, according to a letter obtained by Gabby Petito’s family.

The “burn after reading” letter has become a focal point of the civil lawsuit.

The letter makes no mention of Gabby Petito. It also does not include a date or a reference to when it might have been written.

Here is a transcript of the letter:

“I just want you to remember I will always love you, and I know you will always love me. You are my boy. Nothing can make me stop loving you, nothing will or could ever divide us no matter what we do, or where we go or what we say – we will always love each other. 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. If you fly to the moon, I will be watching the skies for your re-entry. If you say you hate my guts, I’ll get new guts.”

“Remember that love is a verb, not a noun. It’s not a thing, it’s not words, it is actions. Watch people’s actions to know if they love you – not their words. ‘Therefore I am certain that neither death nor life, nor angels nor the ruling spirits, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers from above nor powers from below, nothing in the entire create world can separate our love.’ Neither hostile powers nor messengers of heaven nor monarchs of earth. Nothing has the power to separate us…’ – Romans 8:38 (extended version!).”

“(Nothing can separate us: not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not threats, not even sin, not the thinkable or unthinkable can get between us.) ~ Not time. Not miles and miles and miles. ~”

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