“I ended her life,” Laundrie wrote in the notebook, which was discovered near his remains last year following his death by suicide, and was provided to media by attorney Steven Bertolino. “I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked, I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldnt go on without her.”
Elsewhere in the message, Laundrie claimed that Petito sustained injuries while they were both out in the wilderness, and that he tried to carry her back to their vehicle, but was “stumbling” and “exhausted in shock.” He claimed that he set Petito down and she asked him not to leave her.
Laundrie also wrote that after he killed Petito that night, he chose to drive from Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park ― where Petito’s body was found in September ― to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, so he could spend his final days with his family.
“I am ending my life not because of a fear of punishment but rather because I cant stand to live another day without her,” he wrote. “Ive lost our whole future together, every moment we could have cherished. Im sorry for everyones loss. Please do not make life harder for my family, they lost a son and a daughter.”
Laundrie, 23, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in October. He’d been named the sole person of interest in Petito’s disappearance, after he returned solo from a cross-country trip in the same van the two had left in.
Petito, 22, was an aspiring lifestyle blogger and had been documenting the monthslong trip extensively on social media prior to her disappearance.
The notebook is also a focal point in a civil lawsuit brought against the Laundrie family by Petito’s parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt. In the suit, they claim that Laundrie’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, already knew the whereabouts of Petito’s body during the early days of the investigation but chose to withhold that information. Earlier this week, the Laundries filed a motion to have the suit dismissed.
A lawyer for the Petito family, Patrick Reilly, released a statement to People on Friday saying it was “nonsense” for Laundrie to claim that Petito’s killing was merciful.
“He is writing a letter as though he wants people to feel sorry for him,” Reilly said. “I don’t think there is anything that can make them feel better about it.”