Like Father Like Son: The Tony Todt Family Annihilation

Tony Todt was a family man much as his father Robert had been. In 1980 not only did the latter have a wife Loretta and two children, Tony and Chrissy, but he was assembling another secret family. He was engaged to a 20-year-old nurse who lived in a town near his family’s home in Bensalem Pennsylvania. She had no idea he had ever been married. His fiancee’s family was delighted that this charming educator with the gift of gab was about to become a family member. The couple was already making wedding plans with the parish priest. At the same time, Bob was romantically involved with a 17-year-old student in his special education class and had hired John Chairmonte, a 20-year-old former student, to kill his wife.

Chairmonte was not a natural killer but after a lot of badgering and two false starts, he finally took the 38-calibre gun and key Bob Todt gave him, entered the house, and in the upstairs bedroom pointed the gun at sleeping Loretta who awoke and screamed. Chairmonte was drunk and high on Quaaludes and his aim went wild. He shot her in the left eye but did not kill her. Tony, 4 at the time, woke to his mother’s screams and ran into her room. He later told investigators that a strange man had taken him back to bed. He and his mother both thought two men were in the house.

Emergency surgery by an excellent physician saved Loretta’s life but he could not save her eye and a bullet fragment remains embedded in her brain. The assassin was soon identified and arrested. While Chairmonte told detectives that Robert Todt had been behind the murder-for-hire scheme and Todt was later arrested and convicted of that crime, it took years before Loretta believed that her husband had tried to have her killed. She was convinced, as Todt has insisted to this day, that she was shot by a home invader. A jury thought otherwise and convicted Todt who was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison. He served about 10. Loretta divorced Todt while he was in prison, moved her family to Connecticut, severed all contact between Bob and his children, and remarried. Tony continued to have nightmares that years of therapy could not erase.

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Despite the childhood trauma he had suffered, Tony graduated from college, opened a physical therapy practice in Connecticut, and married. He and Megan had three children, Alek, Tyler, and Zoe. From outward appearances, the Todts seemed to have a happy marriage and they worked smoothly together in the physical therapy office. By 2018 Alek was 13, Tyler 11, and Zoe 4. There were some financial problems that Tony explained only vaguely to his wife, but he could work them out, he assured her.

She was nevertheless puzzled when he suggested they relocate and rent a house in Florida in the planned community of Celebration near Disney World. He would spend the week in Colchester where his physical therapy practice was active, then fly to Florida and spend weekends with his family. Megan would not miss the snowy winters in Connecticut so agreed to the move.      

They rented a lovely 2 ½ story classic center entrance colonial in Celebration and soon settled there contentedly. Photos throughout the house showed a happy couple, a fun-loving family enjoying the beach and dressed in matching pajamas for their 2018 Christmas card. Meanwhile ongoing financial trouble and a federal case pending against him for Medicaid fraud that Megan had not been told about had created considerable stress for Tony.

The family seemed to drop from sight by late December and family members up north began to worry. Tony’s sister Chrissy spoke to him by phone twice. He told her the whole family had been sick with the flu. Megan’s health had not been good, he said. Recently she had some pain-free days, but the “bad” days were really bad, he explained. He was not specific about her diagnosis.

Nonetheless Chrissy had not talked to her sister-in-law or the children since Christmas and was sufficiently concerned to contact the Oceola County Florida Sheriff’s Office and request a visit to check on the family. On December 28th officers went to the house and rang the bell, but no one answered and there was no sign of trouble when they walked around the house. They spoke to a next-door neighbor who had not seen the family recently either. Officers felt there was no evidence of a problem and it was common for families to go away for the holidays, so were unconcerned. On January 11th when there was still no contact, investigators made a second visit but were unable to find anyone home.

Two days later the sheriff’s office was contacted by the FBI. They planned to arrest Todt at his Florida home on fraud charges and asked for two additional officers for backup. The four officials drove to the house and rang the bell on the front porch. When there was no answer, they tried the front door and found it unlocked. The officers entered and called out to identify themselves. They immediately noticed an odor they recognized. It was the smell of decomposing flesh.

Following sounds from the second floor, they encountered Tony walking unsteadily toward the stairway. When investigators asked where his family was, he said his wife was upstairs sleeping. They told him to stay where he was while they checked the upstairs rooms. In the master bedroom on the bed where Tony had been sleeping, 42-year-old Megan’s body was wrapped in blankets. Across the end of the bed lay his 4-year-old daughter Zoe, similarly wrapped. On the floor a mattress held the bodies of 13-year-old Alek and his 11-year-old brother Tyler. They were wrapped snuggly, and Alek wore a set of rosary beads around his neck. Their dog Breezy had also been killed and was in the room. The bodies had been dead for at least two weeks and Tony had been sleeping in the room with them. He was immediately arrested on suspicion of murder and taken into custody without incident.

Two days later he confessed to the crime. He had fed heavy doses of Benadryl to his family and the dog, then while they were unconscious, he stabbed all of them except Zoe. The medical examiner later determined that either the medicine or the wounds could have killed Megan and the boys, but no cause of death could be determined for Zoe. Days later Tony changed his story. Megan had killed the children by feeding them a Benadryl-laced pie while he was not home. When he returned and she confessed, he claimed she wanted to commit suicide to be with her children. He told his father in a letter he wrote from jail that he wanted to die too and had attempted suicide 8 times. “Yet another thing I suck at,” his letter read.

Since then, he has hinted that Megan discouraged him from getting professional medical care when he needed it. The undercurrent is “I’m not to blame, I’m not to blame.” He repeats his father’s refrain. Todt is a German name. Translated, it means “death.”

Covid has postponed Tony Todt’s trial, currently scheduled for September 2021.