A prosecutor claimed a man admitted to murdering his family to prepare for the “apocalypse” while living in the formerly Disney-affiliated community of Celebration, Florida.
Opening arguments began Monday in Osceola County Court in the case against 46-year-old Anthony Todt, who faces four counts of capital murder for the deaths of his wife and three children. He also faces one count of animal cruelty for allegedly killing Breezy, the family dog. He has pleaded not guilty.
In opening statements, prosecutor Danielle Pinnell said Todt told authorities in a confession that he and his wife had an agreement that “everybody needed to die in order to pass over to the other side together because the apocalypse was coming.”
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Pinnell said that one night between Dec. 14, 2019, and Christmas, Todt, who weighs 250 pounds according to his arrest warrant, went to his four-year-old daughter Zoe’s room while she was sleeping and rolled on top of her, suffocating her to death. He then went to the bedroom where Alexander Todt, 13, was sleeping, Pinnell claimed, and suffocated him before stabbing him in the abdomen. Downstairs on a sofa bed, Todt allegedly suffocated and stabbed 11-year-old Tyler Todt. He also allegedly suffocated Breezy the dog.
Jan. 15, 2020, booking photo released by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office of Anthony Todt.
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office via AP
Megan Todt was also found with stab wounds to her abdomen, and according to Pinnell, she was the last to die. Pinnell said that Todt claimed Megan had attempted to take her own life by stabbing herself and that he had suffocated her to death after her supposedly self-inflicted stab wounds failed to do the job. Todt then allegedly moved all the bodies to the master bedroom and continued living in the house until authorities discovered the decomposing bodies on Jan. 13, 2020.
In an affidavit, police claimed that when they arrived to search the house, Todt “could barely stand and appeared to be shaking.” He was taken to a hospital and told paramedics he had taken “an unknown amount of Benedryl” in an attempt to die by suicide.
Todt allegedly confessed to the murders to authorities in January of 2020, and on two other occasions, but in June of that year he wrote a letter from prison to his father declaring his innocence and blaming the massacre on Megan. In the letter, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, he said it was Megan who had made and fed the children a “Benadryl pudding pie,” then “stabbed and suffocated each one.” He said she then began stabbing herself and that, contrary to the prosecution’s claim he’d admitted to suffocating her, he had attempted CPR on her “until [he] physically couldn’t anymore.”
The Todts were originally from Connecticut and had moved in recent years to Celebration, Florida, a census-designated place founded by Disney in the Nineties to be a small-town utopia close to the Orlando theme parks. It is no longer owned by the company. In the letter to his father, Todt claimed his wife’s struggles with depression had been the impetus for the family’s move. With pastel-colored Victorian homes and pedestrian-friendly streets, Celebration’s history of Disney affiliation has earned it a reputation for manufactured perfection; Todt’s murder case is reportedly only the second in the community’s 26-year history.
The defense opted to defer its opening statement until after the state rests its case. Todt’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
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