More than two years after authorities found Anthony Todt’s family murdered and wrapped in blankets inside their rental home near Disney World, the Connecticut physical therapist was found guilty.
Todt, 46, shook his head as he was convicted of homicide for the December 2019 deaths of his 42-year-old wife, Megan, and their three children—13-year-old Alek, 11-year-old Tyler, and 4-year-old Zoey—inside their Celebration, Florida home. Todt was also convicted on one count of animal cruelty for killing the family’s dog, Breezy. The medical examiner found that all but Zoey had stab wounds.
After the verdict was read out, Todt spoke directly to Circuit Judge Keith Carsten, saying he loved his wife and kids, and in the same breath insisting that Megan had been verbally abusing the children. “I maintain my innocence,” he said.
“You, Anthony John Todt, are a destroyer of worlds,” Carsten then told him.
The verdict Thursday evening came after Todt took the stand in his own defense, claiming that even though he confessed to killing his family multiple times it was his wife who actually committed familicide. Prosecutors, however, alleged that Todt fatally dosed his family with Benadryl before stabbing her and the children in a twisted murder-suicide pact with his wife that would allow them to “pass over” together before the end of the world.
Assistant State Attorney Danielle Pinnell told jurors in her closing arguments Thursday that Todt took steps to try to deceive law enforcement after they found [the families] bodies—telling one detective that “they bring their children into this world, they get to decide when they leave.”
“[Todt] wanted control over the lives of his kids and over the life of Megan,” Pinnell told jurors in Osceola County Court.
Todt’s defense team, however, insisted that prosecutors could not prove that it was Todt who killed his family and not his wife. They pointed out that the medical examiner concluded Todt’s family died of unspecified violence but could not conclude whether they were smothered or to what extent the Benadryl overdose played a role in the murders.
“There are holes. There are gaps. There is reasonable doubt,” Alesha Smith, Todt’s public defender, said Thursday. “If the medical examiner can’t give you the true cause of death, that goes to reasonable doubt.”
While on the stand Wednesday, Todt told jurors that his wife had life-long, chronic illnesses that were the impetus for her belief the family needed to die in order to be reincarnated into a better life. As her illness progressed, Todt said his wife began watching videos online that predicted the upcoming apocalypse and offered views on how to reach “salvation.”
“She went from a very strong vibrant woman to barely holding on at 90 pounds,” Todt said. “She went from a mom who provided for everything…to a person who could barely walk stairs on certain days.”
Eventually, Todt claimed, her unwavering belief about starting a new life prompted her to kill their kids with a Benadryl-tainted “pudding pie” then stab herself in the stomach.
“I came home and my kids were dead,” Todt said. “It was the most horrible day of my life. What made it more horrible was that my wife died in front of me also.”
But jurors heard a confession Todt allegedly made shortly after the deaths in which he told detectives that he and his wife came up with a plan to kill their kids and themselves in order to “pass over” before the apocalypse. In the taped confession, Todt said he first “rolled over on top” of Zoey “until she suffocated” then killed his two sons by suffocating them and stabbing them.
He said his wife then stabbed herself twice—and when that didn’t work, he suffocated her with a pillow. Todt then allegedly admitted suffocating the dog.
“I needed to save her soul,” Todt said in the video, noting that he wanted his family on “the other side.” “I wanted her to be with us.”
Finally, Todt said he tried to kill himself in various ways, including trying to overdose on Benadryl and hanging himself—then “chickened out” when he tried to use a knife.
But on the stand, he said he did not remember confessing to the crimes at all, and only remembered telling his wife before she died that he would take the blame.
“I was covering for my wife. Obviously unsuccessfully. I had no clue how my kids died,” Todt testified.
The family’s shocking deaths were only uncovered when relatives asked Osceola Sheriff’s deputies to perform a wellness check around Christmas in 2019 after not hearing from them. Prosecutors said that an FBI agent who had been investigating Todt’s Connecticut business for medical fraud also asked the Florida sheriff’s office to locate Todt. Ultimately, cops were able to enter the home after getting an arrest warrant for Todt’s alleged financial crimes. They found the heavily decomposed bodies of Megan, Alek, Tyler, and Zoey in the upstairs master bedroom all covered in blankets.
The Daily Beast