Brian Laundrie wanted people to believe that he killed Gabby Petito because she was badly injured. The contents of his notebook, which authorities found near his remains in a Florida swamp last October — and which the FBI announced in January included a confession — have been shared by the Laundrie family attorney, according to NBC News New York. The photos show a multi-page suicide note, still legible after being underwater for several weeks.
In what reads like a romanticized fantasy of a mercy killing, Laundrie explains that he and Petito had been rushing back to their van on a Wyoming campground as darkness set in, when Petito fell while crossing a stream. “I hear a splash and a scream,” Laundrie wrote. “I found her breathing heavily, gasping my name.” He carried her as far as he could, then built a fire and spooned her to try to warm her up, he claimed. “She was so thin, had already been freezing too long,” he wrote. He said she had a head injury and was coming in and out of consciousness, “begging for an end to her pain.”
“I ended her life, I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted,” he wrote. He apologized to her family and asked whoever he intended the letter for to not make life harder for his family, who he said lost a son and — in Petito — a daughter. He claimed he was ending his life because he couldn’t go on without Petito and not because he was afraid of punishment. He closed on a self-satisfied quip asking the finder of the letter to pick up his belongings. “Gabby hated people who litter.”
Petito, 22, whose final words only Laundrie heard, disappeared in the summer of 2021 while traveling cross-country with Laundrie. September 1, Laundrie showed up at his family’s home in Florida with the outfitted van the couple had been living in — but no Petito. He got a lawyer, refused to speak to anyone, then disappeared. Meanwhile, Petito’s family was frantic to find her.
During the search for Petito, reports surfaced that a few weeks before Laundrie returned to his folks’ house, a witness had called the police in Moab, Utah, after seeing Petito and Laundrie in a physical altercation. Three weeks after Laundrie’s arrival in Florida, Petito was found dead in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Authorities ruled her cause of death “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation.”
In March, Petito’s parents filed a lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents, claiming his parents knew he’d killed Petito but refused to disclose her location.
Through a spokesperson, the Tampa FBI declined to comment on the contents of the notebook. Lawyers for the families of Petito and Laundrie could not immediately be reached for comment.