The man accused of killing his entire family and their dog in a Disney-founded community last month was exposed to family violence at an early age when his father hired someone to kill his mother, an attack that he supposedly witnessed firsthand.
Anthony Todt, 44, was ordered held without bond Thursday after being charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his wife Megan, 42, and their children Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoey, 4. He also faces an animal cruelty charge for the death of the family dog, Breezy.
One of the disturbing details to emerge in the case is Todt’s eerie family history. His father Robert Todt, a former special education teacher and wrestling coach in Pennsylvania, hired an ex-student with learning disabilities to shoot his wife in 1980, according to court records. Loretta Todt, Anthony Todt’s mother, survived the attack, but lost her left eye.
Then-assistant district attorney Alan Rubenstein, who is now a Bucks County judge, prosecuted the case and told Oxygen.com that he “remembers the case well.”
He said that Anthony Todt, who was 4 at the time of the shooting, was in the house along with his sister when his mother was shot by his dad’s former student, 19-year-old John Chairmonte. Robert Todt had paid the teen $800 to kill his wife, according to court records.
Rubenstein said Anthony was awakened by a noise in the house the night of the shooting.
"So apparently, he [Anthony] said he walked into his mother’s room and either saw or heard the shot. He said somebody picked him up and put him back to bed,” Rubenstein said, clarifying that if Anthony's recollection was true, it was likely the shooter that picked him up and carried him back to his room.
Rubenstein added that Robert Todt was out “seeing one of his many girlfriends” at the time of the shooting. Two women testified that Robert was carrying on affairs with them at the time, according to court records. Colleen Fecho testified she was engaged to Robert; Judy Worthington, who was a 17-year-old student at the high school where Robert worked, also testified that they had a relationship. Rubenstein said he argued in court that the engagement to Fecho may have been a motive for the murder attempt. Rubenstein claimed that Robert did try to enlist Chairmonte to kill his wife, who worked as a nurse, twice before but Chairmonte chickened out.
Robert served about 10 years behind bars for the murder, according to Rubenstein. He noted that Loretta was in denial and initially believed her husband had been framed. Rubenstein said she supported Robert in the courtroom, wailed and yelled at the prosecution when he was convicted and even stayed with him post-conviction for a time.
Eventually, Loretta moved to Connecticut and accepted the tragic fact that her husband tried to kill her, according to the Hartford Courant. She divorced Robert and remarried and raised her children.
Now one of those children is accused of killing his family nearly 40 years later.
“It’s horrifying,” Rubenstein said, adding that “truth is stranger than fiction.”
“Was Anthony Todt in any way affected in what he either witnessed or knew about his father and mother?” the judge pondered, adding that he believes Anthony came from a family that was “in the throes of evil.”
As a child, Anthony was haunted by dreams of his mother’s shooting, according to the Courant.
“It’s probably tough to realize that your father hired a learning disabled student to kill your mother while you were in the house,” Rubenstein told Oxygen.com.
Anthony Todt was reportedly under federal investigation for possible insurance fraud at the time of the killings. Todt, who ran his own physical therapy practice along with his wife, allegedly billed insurance companies for physical therapy services he never performed, Click Orlando reports.
Their practice, Family Physical Therapy in Colchester, Connecticut, was raided in November and at that point Todt allegedly admitted to falsely billing Medicaid, saying neither his wife nor his employees were aware of the fraud, CNN reports.
An eviction notice had been recently filed in a Florida court for the home where the bodies were found, according to NBC Connecticut.
Todt's sister, Chrissy Caplet, released a statement obtained by CNN, saying that Todt and his wife “were devoted loving parents who loved their children and (their dog) Breezy every day and were so involved in their community. The families of Tony and Megan ask for privacy during this difficult time in our lives as we mourn the loss of our families."
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