With brightly colored houses and white picket fences, the town of Celebration, Florida resembles a picture book setting. No wonder, because Celebration was actually built by Disney.
Just a short drive from Disney World, Orlando, the area was once swampland until the Walt Disney Company developed suburban utopia. With carefully designed green spaces and friendly neighborhoods, it became popular with US families.
Even when it was sold to a private company in 2004, the rules and Disney magic stayed the same.
The Todt family moved to Celebration in 2017 to be part of the dream. Anthony Todt and his wife Megan, 42, had lived in Connecticut but they sold and began renting a house in Celebration. They also bought a condo nearby. The couple had three children, Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoe, four, and a family dog named Breezy.
Todt, 46, had a physical therapy practice in Connecticut and flew back to work during the weekdays. On the weekends, he coached local children to play soccer and was a hands-on father. The meek Megan homeschooled her talented children. Young Zoe was curious and energetic. Tyler and Alek both played the piano and loved books. The well-dressed family took vacations and lived a wealthy lifestyle. But in November 2019, Todt’s business was under investigation for fraud.
He was accused of billing private health insurers for patients he had not treated. Todt also had several high-interest loans totaling about $200,000 to keep up with family expenses.
When questioned by fraud investigators, Todt insisted Megan had no idea he was in debt. Todt was not arrested and was allowed to return to his family in Celebration, where he was struggling to pay rent. An eviction lawsuit was filed for their rental home.
Despite his money problems, he told Megan’s family that they were going on vacation again, so they wouldn’t be in touch. They also got news that the family was doing badly. But as of mid-December, Megan’s loved ones were worried.
Christmas came and went and Megan was silent. An eviction notice was posted on her door, but when neighbors asked Megan about it, she responded with just a few words. Megan’s family called the police, and on January 13, 2020, officers went to the Todt home.
Todt opened the door trembling. He mumbled that his children were staying the night and said his wife was asleep – he even called her.
But when the police entered the house, it was a crime scene. Megan and her three children lay dead in the master bedroom.
Their decomposing bodies were wrapped in blankets and it was clear they had been dead for weeks. The family dog was also dead.
The victims, except for Zoe, had stab wounds and all had dangerously high levels of Benadryl in their systems. Bottles were found in the house. Todt had clearly been living in the family home with the bodies of his wife and children.
When questioned, Todt claimed Megan suffered from her health and was obsessed with the idea of reincarnation. Todt said they made a suicide pact because she believed an apocalypse was coming — and that if they all died and “burned off the family karma,” they would be rewarded with a better life and redemption.
Incredibly, he said he and Megan sat down and told the kids about dying. Todt told police they said, “We want to die with you.” So they had pushed the plan. But if that was the case, then why was Todt still alive?
He described smothering four-year-old Zoe with a pillow. Then he stabbed his young sons and smothered them. Megan allegedly stabbed her stomach and drank more medicine, but when she didn’t die she begged him to help her be with her children and he smothered her with a pillow. Todt placed their bodies in the bedroom, but he “did not join his family on the other side.”
He had Benadryl in his system but said he was unable to stab himself. He admitted he’d been drinking and checking the mail – and grabbing fast food “once or twice”.
Deadly Spiked Pudding
Todt was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of animal cruelty. Suddenly, his version of events changed dramatically. He said he actually returned home to find that Megan had already killed the children by studding their “custard pie” with Benadryl and then stabbed them. When he confronted her, Megan stabbed herself in the stomach and died before his eyes.
The case of the “Disney Dad” killer made headlines across America. Todt’s lawyers asked that his previous confessions and allegations of fraud, as well as any mention of Todt’s German translation as “dead”, be suppressed. The confessions were admitted into evidence and played to the jury at this year’s trial, where Todt pleaded not guilty.
He took the stand and insisted that Megan was the killer. He said his initial admission – that he was involved – was a lie. “I covered for my wife,” Todt told the court. Todt spoke about his wife’s struggles with Lyme disease and also depression after a miscarriage.
Zuma Press/PA Images)
The defense said the case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt and Todt confessed while drugged and suffering trauma.
Todt was often seen crying dramatically on the witness stand, but prosecutors said he seeks “control over the life and death” of his family. They pointed out that Todt’s initial taped confession, in which he described going into every child’s room and killing them, matched the evidence at the crime scene.
Why hadn’t he called the police when he found out what his wife had done? How could a man his size not overpower his wife when she allegedly started stabbing herself and drinking Benadryl? While the defense said the bodies were too decomposed to pinpoint the exact details of their deaths, prosecutors said Todt intentionally allowed his family to rot for about three weeks to add even more dubiousness to the case.
In April, after six hours of deliberation, Todt was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and animal cruelty. He was convicted shortly thereafter. Todt, 46, shook his head in disbelief at the verdict. “I loved my wife. I loved my children,” he said. “They came first in my life. I did not do that.”
He said he put his wife on a pedestal for her health issues and even gained weight because he was so busy putting her first.
Megan’s aunt, Cynthia Copco, described Megan as having “a giving heart”. She revealed that Alek wanted to learn violin and Tyler wanted to play folk guitar and that she called Zoe a princess.
The judge handed out four consecutive life sentences without parole and added an additional year for animal cruelty. “You, Anthony John Todt, are the destroyer of worlds,” the judge told him. Todt had tried to hide his guilt with a story about an impending apocalypse. But he was the darkness that brought death to his innocent family.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/dad-who-murdered-wife-kids-27123407 Father who murdered wife and children blamed 'apocalypse' and lived with corpses for weeks