A Florida man is accused of fatally shooting his parents and brother after stealing $200,000 from them to pay a Bulgarian webcam model he met as a result of his addiction to online porn, police say. Grant Amato, a 29-year-old nurse, killed his family members at their home in Chuluota on January 25, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.
Amato was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother, Margaret Amato, 61; father, Chad Amato, 59; and brother, Cody Amato, 31, the sheriff’s office said. Amato’s surviving brother and Cody’s girlfriend told detectives Grant Amato had stolen the money so he could keep talking to the Bulgarian woman online and that resulted in a deteriorating relationship with his family. Cody’s girlfriend told police Cody told her he feared “Grant Amato would kill everyone,” according to court documents.
Amato is being held without bond and was scheduled to appear in court for the first time on January 28. His court-appointed attorney, Jeff Dowdy, said his client has denied killing his family members.
Here’s what you need to know about Grant Amato and the killings he is accused of:
1. Amato Is Accused of Shooting His Father in His Kitchen & Then Killing His Mother & Brother ‘Execution-Style’
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the triple homicide in rural Chuluota, Florida, on January 25, after a co-worker called police to express concern that Cody Amato hadn’t come to work. When deputies entered the Amatos home on Sultan Circle about 9 a.m., they found three people dead inside. They were later identified as Margaret Amato, Chad Amato and Cody Amato, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office put out a press release on Friday and said it was not believed that it was not a random act. They also said they were looking for a “person of interest,” 29-year-old Grant Amato, and said he was driving a 1996 white Honda Accord with the license plate L1GH7. “Amato should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who spots Amato or the vehicle should immediately call 911, and are strongly cautioned not to approach or attempt to make contact with either,” the sheriff’s office said.
On January 26, Grant Amato was found about 7:45 a.m. at a hotel in Orange County. He was taken into “investigative detention.” On January 27, the sheriff’s office said Grant Amato was released from custody, but was cooperating with the investigation. Then, on January 28, the sheriff’s office put out another update and said investigators obtained an arrest warrant charging Grant Amato with three counts of murder and took him into custody without incident about 1 a.m.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Chad Amato was found dead in the kitchen of their home, Cody Amato was killed in a storage room and Margaret Amato was found shot dead in an office chair. The sheriff’s office said Cody and Margaret Amato suffered “execution-style” wounds.
Deputies said they had “prior experiences” with the residents of the home and knew another man, Grant Amato, lived at the home. They noticed that Amato’s car was missing from the home and put out a “be on the lookout” or BOLO notice for him.
Cody Amato’s girlfriend told investigators that over the past few months there had been “problems” with Grant Amato. She said Grant stole $60,000 from Cody and also stole his guns and sold them without his permission. She told police that Grant Amato had been placed in a facility because he was unstable and her boyfriend told her he was afraid that “Grant Amato would kill everyone,” according to court documents. Police said the admission to the facility in South Florida was voluntary.
Cody’s girlfriend also told police that Grant Sloan was unemployed and had been “going downhill” after he was “kicked out of nurse anesthetist school.” She also told police that Amato was “having a relationship” with a woman from Bulgaria “and that he was stealing money from the family so he could contact the female.”
Investigators said, “It was later learned that Grant Amato had stolen approximately $200,000 from the family to purchase time to interact with the female on a pornographic website.”
Cody’s girlfriend told police that on January 24 she was at work with her boyfriend and at about 9:15 p.m., his father called him and asked him to come home because something was wrong. When she asked what was wrong, he told her, “stupid f*cking bullsh*t.” She texted him later that night and he told her it was “all ok” and she “didn’t need to worry about him.” But she and his co-worker became concerned when he didn’t show up for work the next morning and called police for a welfare check.
Investigators asked Grant Amato’s brother, Jason Amato, if there was anyone who would want to harm his family and he told them that Grant Amato had been talking to an “online call girl” in Bulgaria and had been wiring “an excessive amount of money to her and wasn’t sure if he owed money to her,” according to court documents. Jason Amato said the woman had sent mail to Grant and given her his parents’ address.
Jason Amato told police that his brother had sent the Bulgarian woman more than $200,000 in a three-month period. But he said he had spoken to his mother on January 16 and she said everything was OK and Grant was applying for work. Jason Amato also told detectives he was aware that his brother had stolen $150,000 from his parents, including a $65,000 loan on the house, and had taken $50,000 from Chad Amato.
You can read Grant Amato’s arrest report below:
2. He Spent Time in a Treatment Center for His Porn Addiction, but Continued to Talk to the Bulgarian Webcam Model Against His Father’s Wishes After Returning Home, Prosecutors Say
Jason Amato told police that his brother spent about two weeks at a facility for depression. Police said Grant Amato was actually enrolled in a 60-day program to treat internet- and sex-addiction. But he only completed about two weeks before returning home, according to court documents. He returned home on January 5.
Grant Amato told investigators that on January 24 he was in a heated argument with his father and was kicked out of his home because he was continuing to communicate with the Bulgarian webcam model over the internet. Amato told police he met the girl on Cam Girls, an adult web camera website, and had been communicating with her since June 2018, while sending her $200,000.
Grant Amato told police his argument with his father centered around the amount of money he sent to the unnamed woman. According to court documents, Amato told police his father gave him an “ultimatum” because of his addiction. His father told him if he wanted to stay at his family’s house he would have to complete the sex addiction program at Cornerstone in Fort Lauderdale. He went into the program on December 22, but left early on January 4. He returned to the Orlando area and his family held a meeting where he was given a two-page list of rules he had to follow to stay in the house, according to court documents.
“During the meeting, Chad told Grant that if he broke any of the rules he would have to leave the house immediately. One of the rules was that he wasn’t allowed to have communications with the female in Bulgaria,” police wrote in the affidavit. “Grant Amato initially agreed to the rules his father had set, but he didn’t think they were fair because he felt that the Bulgarian female was his girlfriend and they had a relationship.”
Grant Amato told police he continued to communicate with the Bulgarian woman using his Twitter account and his father learned of those communications. Amato told police his father confronted him on the night of January 24 after work and they got into a dispute. Amato initially told police he left the home before his brother arrived, but then later said he stayed until his brother got there and then left.
Amato also told police that he returned to his family’s neighborhood on January 25 and said he saw a news van and police car, but did not try to find out what happened. He said he went to a Panera Bread restaurant and used the Wi-Fi to search for “top news stories,” and learned about a shooting in his neighborhood. He said he recognized it was possibly his driveway seen in the news report.
“When questioned about why he still would not follow up to check on his family, he replied, ‘I just didn’t want to know,” police said.
According to police, Amato denied responsibility for the deaths of his family members, while acknowledging he was the only one with motive and opportunity to commit the murders. When shown photos from the crime scene and asked if he had any remorse, police said Amato replied, “his family had been blaming him for months for ruining their lives, stealing and not following the rules of the home, so he might as well be blamed for this too.”
All three of Grant Amato’s slain family members worked in the healthcare field. Cody Amato worked at Advent Hospital East Orlando, police said. Margaret Amato was a client operations manager in the healthcare division at Nuance Communications, according to her Facebook page. Chad Amato worked as a clinical pharmacist, according to his Linkedin profile.
You can read the full affidavit below or here:
3. Amato Was Also Accused of Stealing Prescription Drugs Worth More Than $2,000 From the Hospital Where He Worked
Grant Amato was previously arrested in June 2018 after he was accused of stealing prescription drugs from the hospital where he had been working as a nurse. He was fired from the job, but the county attorney eventually declined to prosecute the case. According to Orange County court documents, Amato said he stole the drugs to give to patients who he believed were not adequately being relaxed by doctor-ordered medication.
Amato was working at the time at Florida Orlando Hospital, according to the arrest report. The Orlando Police were called to the hospital on June 21 for a report of a suicidal person. When they arrived, they spoke to Grant Amato and determined he didn’t meet the Baker Act criteria, according to court documents.
The officers learned that Amato had been accused of committing grand theft at the hospital. Staff told the officers that on June 19, eight unordered empty vials of Propofol, worth $258.38 per vial for a total of $2,067.04, were found in two rooms under Amato’s care. The hospital’s pharmacist found that Amato had taken the Propofol and put it into his pocket.
“Amato admitted that he stole the Propofol for patient use. According to a letter of apology written to Florida Hospital that was submitted to evidence,” police said in the arrest report. “Amato stated that he administered the drug to patients who were not being adequately relaxed by doctor-ordered medication. He said that he didn’t seel or use the Propofol, only gave it to patients. Amato is suspected of stealing and giving patients unordered Propofol for a longer period and Florida Hospital is conducting an investigation to find out the total amount stolen.”
You can read the affidavit in the grand theft case below:
4. He Previously Worked at the Orlando Regional Medical Center & Graduated From the University of Central Florida
Before working at Florida Orlando Hospital, Grant Tiernan Amato worked at Orlando Regional Medical Center as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit, according to his Facebook page. He left his job at that hospital in 2014.
Amato graduated from University of Central Florida with a nursing degree, according to his Facebook page. Florida records show that Amato remains a registered nurse in the state. His single-state license was issued on February 10, 2012, and remains active until April 30, 2012.
There are no disciplinary records or public complaints attached to his file.
5. Amato, Who Was Part of a Competitive Airsoft Gun Team With His Brother, Was Reported Missing & Suicidal by His Family in December
Grant Amato attended Timber Creek High School, according to his Facebook page. His page shows an interest in guns, including airsoft guns and actual firearms. He and his brother, Cody Amato, were both members of a competitive airsoft team called Remedy, according to its Facebook page.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Amato’s brother and mother called police on December 20, 2018, to report that Amato was missing, depressed and possibly suicidal. The newspaper reports that Amato had lost his job, failed out of graduate school and expressed “strong feelings of worthlessness.”
According to the police report obtained by the Sentinel, Amato left the home without explanation and sent text messages to his mother saying he was “tired of dealing with everything…and going to handle it his own way.” His mother told police her son ahd access to guns.