A father has confessed to murdering his wife, their three children, and the family dog inside their rented home near Walt Disney World, authorities announced Wednesday.
Anthony Todt, 44, has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of homicide in connection with the murder of his 42-year-old wife, Megan, and their three children in Celebration, Florida, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said. Todt was also charged with one count of animal cruelty after confessing to killing the family’s dog, Breezy, authorities said.
“He is cooperating with the investigation, I can tell you that much,” Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said, calling the quadruple murder “despicable.”
Authorities took Todt into custody around 9 a.m. Monday, while aiding federal agents in serving the father of three with an unrelated arrest warrant. Inside the home, deputies found the bodies of Megan and the three children—13-year-old Alek, 11-year-old Tyler, and 4-year-old Zoey.
The four family members are believed to have been killed “sometime toward the end of December,” Gibson said. Authorities said that one out-of-state family member asked for a wellness check on the family on Dec. 29 after not hearing from them for two days.
Deputies said that they checked the home at that time, but left after being unable to communicate with anyone inside. They didn’t believe the situation rose “to a level of suspicion” that would justify entering or searching the home.
“There’s an element of privacy,” the sheriff said. “Your home is your castle.”
Authorities now believe there is a “possibility” that Todt killed his family before deputies performed the December wellness check, Gibson said. The sheriff said he would not go into detail about how the four individuals died until after the medical examiner’s report has been released.
Last Wednesday, relatives took to the internet to report the Todt family missing, creating a Facebook group that quickly swelled to nearly 2,500 members. According to authorities, no missing person reports were ever filed for the family.
The family had recently moved from Colchester, Connecticut, to Celebration, Florida—a community on the outskirts of Disney World, designed and built by the Walt Disney Company.
“It’s a tragedy and we are mourning the losses in our close-knit community,” one of their neighbors, Lori Leighton, told The Daily Beast.
Authorities said that while Megan and the three kids lived in Florida full-time, Todt would work at his Connecticut physical therapy practice during the week and fly to meet his family on the weekends.
“My understanding is the kids and Megan resided here primarily. Kids were homeschooled and I believe they traveled but they have been here for a couple of years at least,” one Celebration neighbor told The Daily Beast. “I was shocked and very upset. I don’t think anyone can comprehend how someone could do this.”
Gibson said federal agents contacted the sheriff’s office on Jan. 9 regarding an investigation into Todt. Despite several attempts that weekend to talk to Todt and his family, deputies were not able to make contact but did not see anything suspicious on the North Village property.
The sheriff added he did not know the details of the federal arrest warrant but said it was tied to activity in Connecticut. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut confirmed their office is working a case involving Todt but said the warrant is currently under seal.
Todt is also under investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General’s office for a potential violation of the False Claims Act, a spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast. The act targets fraudulent insurance claims by medical providers.
Anthony and Megan Todt were both physical therapists and worked together at the Family Physical Therapy practice, which has offices in Connecticut.
“We grieve along with the victims’ family and friends, along with the community for this tragic loss of innocent lives,” Gibson said Wednesday.
According to court records, the Todt family was facing mounting financial pressure over the last few years. Along with an eviction order from the family’s Celebration home on Dec. 22, citing a missing $4,921 December payment, Todt was struggling to maintain his Connecticut physical therapy practice.
State records show Anthony’s license to practice physical therapy expired in September and had not been renewed, while his wife’s license was set to expire at the end of January.