Autopsies: Benadryl overdose, ‘homicidal violence’ killed Florida mother, 3 children

CELEBRATION, Fla. — A Florida man wanted for health care fraud used overdoses of allergy medication on his wife and three children before stabbing them to death and leaving their decomposing bodies in a bedroom for weeks, according to the victims’ autopsy reports.

Anthony John Todt, 44, of Celebration, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and a single count of felony cruelty to an animal in the deaths of his wife, their children and the family dog, Osceola County court records show.

Todt is accused of killing his wife, Megan Gula Todt, 42, their two sons, Aleksander “Alek” Todt, 13, and Tyler Todt, 11, and their daughter, 4-year-old Zoe Todt.

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“Megan and her children were beautiful, talented and passionate about life,” a joint obituary said. “They were all devoted to each other and lifted their family to aspire to greater accomplishments so that they could compassionately help others. They will be forever loved and greatly missed, and their adored family and friends will never let them be forgotten.”

More than 200 mourners, from family and friends to former coworkers and clients at the Todt family’s physical therapy business attended their Jan. 31 funerals, held in Montville, Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant.

“Remember them for who they were and what they brought to our lives,” the family’s eulogy, read by Megan Todt’s brother in law, according to the newspaper. “We are so grateful for the time that we had. It certainly wasn’t enough, but we made memories to hold onto. Their laughter will echo forever in our hearts.

“Megan, Alek, Tyler and Zoe were loved by so many, but no one loved them more than those who have to pick up the pieces. Each day we try to take another step toward finding a new normal.”

The victims, along with their dog, were found dead Jan. 13 when Osceola County sheriff’s deputies went to the family’s home at 202 Reserve Place in Celebration, a small master-planned community developed in the 1990s by the Walt Disney Company. The community is about 5 miles south of the resort.

According to court records, deputies were assisting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in executing a federal arrest warrant for Anthony Todt, a Connecticut physical therapist who was being sought on allegations of health care fraud.

Federal court records suggest that the killings took place as authorities in the fraud investigation were closing in on Todt, who failed to return to Connecticut as expected in December. According to the documents, Todt and his family lived in Florida, but he flew back to Connecticut each week for work.

When federal investigators tracked Todt down at his family’s Florida home Jan. 13, deputies securing the residence found the decomposing bodies of Todt’s wife and children, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said during a January news conference.

The family had been slain sometime in late December, according to Todt’s statements to detectives.

Watch Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson speak about the investigation below, courtesy of WFTV.

“Anthony has cooperated with the investigation and he has confessed to killing his wife, Megan Todt … and their three children,” Gibson said, his voice halting as he named the children and their ages. “Anthony also killed their family dog, Breezy.”

According to autopsy reports obtained by WFTV in Orlando, the medical examiner determined the cause of death for all four victims was “homicidal violence of unspecified means in association with diphenhydramine toxicity.”

Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl.

In addition to the Benadryl overdose, Megan Todt was stabbed twice in the upper abdomen, the news station reported. Each of the couple’s sons suffered a single stab wound to the abdomen.

Alek’s wound to his ribs was 4 1/2 inches deep and Tyler’s injury to his intestines was 3 1/2 inches deep, the autopsy reports show. Both of their mother’s stab wounds were 8 inches deep.

There was no evidence of injury to Zoe Todt other than the overdose, the station said.

Two bloody Buck knives were recovered from the home, WFTV reported.

The affidavit for Anthony Todt’s arrest on the murder charges indicates that he initially told deputies and federal agents that his wife was upstairs sleeping.

“Agents and deputies began calling for Megan with no response,” the affidavit says. “Additional agents and deputies conducted a protective sweep of the residence.”

The bodies of his wife and children, as well as the dog, were found in a bedroom, all obviously dead, the document states.

“Anthony could barely stand and appeared to be shaking,” the affidavit says. “Anthony was transported to a hospital for further evaluation and later held for making threatening comments. Anthony told paramedics he took an unknown amount of Benadryl in an attempt to commit suicide.”

Anthony Todt confessed to the killings from his hospital bed at Advent Health, the document alleges. The details of his alleged confession were redacted from the copy of the affidavit made public.

The killings of his wife and children are not the first time Anthony Todt has been enmeshed in a murder plot. Todt was 4 years old -- the same age as his daughter, Zoe -- in 1980 when he overheard his mother’s shooting, waking one night to her screams and a gunshot.

His father, Robert Todt, a special education teacher and wrestling coach at Bensalem High School in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, was convicted of hiring a former student to kill his wife, Loretta Todt. According to a December 1980 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Robert Todt, then 26, sought to get rid of his wife because he’d fallen in love with another woman. The other woman, a nurse, testified at his trial that they had planned to marry April 19 -- a month to the day after Loretta Todt’s shooting.

She said Robert Todt, who she’d met four years earlier at a swimming class he taught, had told her he was divorced.

The hired shooter, 20-year-old John Chairmonte, testified that Robert Todt gave him a handgun to use in the crime and provided access to the home he shared with his wife and two young children, including Anthony Todt.

“Robert Todt gave me his house key and told me to go in and shoot her,” Chairmonte said, according to the Inquirer. “He said I could also stab her if I wanted to. If I wanted to rape her, that was all right.”

Chairmonte, who pleaded guilty to the shooting, said he never collected the $800 he was promised by Robert Todt because he was afraid of his former teacher and wanted nothing more to do with him, the newspaper reported.

Loretta Todt survived the shooting, though she lost her left eye and a bullet remained lodged in her brain. According to the Bucks County Courier Times, she stood by her husband through his trial, refusing to believe he was the mastermind of the plot to kill her.

They later divorced after Robert Todt was convicted and sentenced to serve 10 to 20 years in prison. He served about 10 years before being released, the newspaper said.

“She got remarried and her husband called me on her behalf, saying she finally got it,” Bucks County Judge Alan Rubenstein, who prosecuted Robert Todt 40 years ago, told the Courier Times. “It took her years, though.”

Chairmonte, who testified as part of a plea deal, served four years in prison.

Living beyond their means

Federal court documents allege that Anthony Todt, who owned two physical therapy offices in Colchester, Connecticut, was responsible for a fraud scheme in which his business submitted fraudulent claims for physical therapy sessions to the Connecticut Medicaid Program and private insurance companies.

Multiple cooperating witnesses in the federal case, including parents of young patients at Todt’s practice, told investigators their children’s records had been falsified to reflect treatment that had not been administered and that their insurance companies were billed for sessions that had never taken place.

One family told authorities all four family members were billed for New Year’s Day 2019 appointments in Colchester, when in fact they were out of town visiting family for the holiday, the court records show.

Read the Osceola County affidavit for Anthony Todt’s arrest below.

The alleged fraud scheme went back as far as 2016, the documents state.

Federal investigators executed search warrants at Todt’s practice locations on Nov. 21, at which time they seized electronic devices, paper records and patient files. Todt, who was interviewed, said he was the only person responsible for billing for the practice.

Todt allegedly admitted to submitting the fraudulent claims to keep pace with payments on personal loans he had obtained.

“When questioned as to the motivation for committing this fraudulent scheme, Todt stated that he started borrowing money from lenders because it was ‘easier,’” the court documents say.

Investigators asked if he and his family were living above their means.

“That’s the best way to put it,” Todt told the agents, according to the documents.

Todt told the investigators his wife was unaware of his actions and stated he wanted to plead guilty, the records show. He said he was seeking an attorney and would return to Connecticut the week of Dec. 8.

He never showed up.

Read the federal affidavit in Anthony Todt’s health care fraud case below.

His employees’ paychecks started to bounce and, ultimately, they stopped showing up for work, the documents say.

The agents contacted Todt’s family in Connecticut on Jan. 7, at which point a relative told them she, too, was worried because she had not been able to reach him. The woman ended up calling authorities in Florida to perform a welfare check at the Todt family’s Celebration home.

Gibson confirmed that Dec. 29 welfare check, stating that Todt had told his family back home that his wife and children had the flu. The relative who requested the check said she had not heard from him in two days and grew concerned.

“The Sheriff’s Office conducted this wellness check and reported that they could not locate Todt and that the house he was thought to be living in was boarded up,” the federal court documents state.

Deputies next heard from Todt on Jan. 13 when he was arrested and the bodies of his wife and children were found.

A grand jury indicted Todt on the capital murder and animal cruelty charges in February. State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced at a Feb. 25 news conference that her office would seek the death penalty against Todt.

“I can’t imagine the pain and agony that they’re going through,” Ayala said about the surviving family members. “We are going to absolutely do all that we can to make certain that justice is served as we go through this process. It is my hope they are able to find some semblance of peace in this process, knowing for certain we are standing with them and we are standing with community to make certain that justice is served.”

Watch State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s announcement below.

The family’s obituary described children brimming with life. Like their mother, they were all musically inclined. Megan Todt and her boys all played the piano and she was learning the guitar, the Courant reported.

Alek, the oldest of the children, was a gifted student and athlete who was learning the violin.

“With striking blue eyes, Alek had a quiet confidence about him,” the obituary said. “He excelled in his schoolwork, especially English and history. He was an avid reader and particularly was interested in World War I and military history. He loved to learn from his great-grandpa Max and grandpa Bud all about their military experiences.”

He also loved riding bikes and skateboarding with his younger brother, who the family described as their “comedic relief.”

“He was quick to joke and play around, but his carefree nature always carried a concern for others,” the obituary said. “He often wanted to know how he could help someone who needed something.”

Zoe, known by her family as “Princess Zoe,” had “blonde curly hair framed a face that was always laughing and smiling and singing.”

A student at Montessori Academy of Celebration, Zoe “treasured any moment she got to dance and sing, and she was eager to start her ballet lessons.

“She also had a musical spirit and wasn’t shy about playing her harmonica all around the house,” the obituary said.

Her singing also came up during the family’s eulogy, the Courant reported.

“She loved to sing and even though she couldn’t carry a tune, that didn’t stop her from belting out a song,” her uncle said. “Alek would shake his head while Tyler would laughingly encourage her. They enjoyed having fun.”