When Tony Todt was 4 years old, he told a detective he heard his mother scream and saw a man “wrestling with her on a bed,” the night Loretta Todt was shot in the face. She survived but lost an eye. Her husband, Robert Todt, a special education teacher and wrestling coach at a Pennsylvania high school, would later be convicted of hiring a former learning disabled student to pull the trigger.
It was a sensational case that generated piles of newspaper headlines in 1980.
Fast forward 40 years, and Tony Todt, now 44 – whose full name is Anthony Todt – stands accused of murdering his entire family and the family dog in Celebration, Florida. The Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said in a January 15, 2020 news conference that a federal arrest warrant was being served for Anthony Todt when authorities discovered his family dead inside and arrested Todt, who apparently stayed inside the home in a planned Disney community for days after allegedly murdering his entire family and the family dog, Breezy. Authorities now say he stabbed his wife and two of the kids.
“Deputies discovered four deceased individuals inside,” Gibson said. “The cause of death of the four decedents inside the home is homicide.” He said “Anthony has cooperated with the investigation, and he has confessed to killing his wife Megan Todt, 42 years of age…and their three children.”
The children were Alek Todt, 13; Tyler Todt, 11; and Zoe Todt, 4. “Anthony also killed their family dog, Breezy,” confirmed the emotional sheriff. The manner of death was not released, other than that it was homicide. Horrifically, the sheriff indicated that Todt killed the family in late December, remaining in the home with the bodies as desperate out-of-state family members set up a Facebook group to find the “missing” family. They were told the entire family had the flu. Todt is in custody.
It’s a chilling deja vu.
Today, Robert Todt, Tony Todt’s father, is still alive. In fact, he’s free, active on Facebook, remarried, and he maintains social media links with some members of the Todt family, but not Tony.
Tony Todt was a physical therapist who built a thriving practice back in Colchester, Connecticut, but whose license was expired, and who was under investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office. He also was facing an eviction from the Celebration home. Although it’s easy to find glowing reviews of Todt’s physical therapy business online and, on Facebook, both he and Megan presented as a happy, loving family, the Todt family has long harbored a dark past.
Tony’s mom, Loretta, made it through the horrific shooting attack, but she woke up to another nightmare: The court system said her husband was the mastermind.
Here’s what you need to know:
Robert Todt, Who Was Having an Affair, Was Accused of Hiring a Former Student to Ambush Loretta in Their Pennsylvania Home
The convicted triggerman in Loretta’s shooting was John Chairmonte. A story in the Bucks County Courier Times in 2015 says that Chairmonte was convicted in the 1980 “failed murder for hire plot.”
In 2014, Chairmonte found himself back in court, accused of setting an arson fire to commit insurance fraud.
Chairmonte was 20 when he pleaded guilty to shooting Loretta Todt “in the eye” as part of the plot “orchestrated by her husband,” the newspaper reported. Loretta Todt lost her eye in the shooting. Chairmonte was Robert’s former student. The article says Chairmonte cut a deal to testify against Robert, so he got only four years, whereas Robert ended up with a conviction and prison term of 10-20 on attempted murder, criminal solicitation, and conspiracy charges.
A 1983 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision gives further details of the case. “Robert Todt was arrested on July 25, 1980 and charged with offenses involving the shooting of his wife, Loretta Todt,” it says. “The case came to trial before the Honorable Edmund V. Ludwig and a jury and after a lengthy trial, Robert Todt was found guilty of attempted homicide, criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation.”
The Todts had two children; the other, Christine, has been involved in the family’s Facebook group designed to help find the five family members who went missing. You can see a photo of Loretta and Robert Todt here.
“Robert Todt was a board certified special education teacher employed as a high school teacher by the Bensalem Township School District,” the court documents say. “Todt lived in Levittown, Pennsylvania with his wife Loretta and their two children. In the late evening of March 19, 1980, while Robert Todt was out of the house, an individual entered the Todt residence and shot Loretta Todt. Although the bullet fired destroyed her left eye and remains lodged in her skull, Loretta Todt survived the attack.”
The court decision also says:
At trial, the Commonwealth’s most important witness was John Chairmonte. Chairmonte, a former student in Bensalem High School’s program for students with learning disabilities, was an alcohol and drug abuser with a criminal record. His involvement with the attack upon Loretta Todt was revealed after his arrest on an unrelated charge. John Chairmonte admitted that he shot Loretta Todt at Robert Todt’s behest. In exchange for testimony against Todt, Chairmonte was promised that his sentence for shooting Loretta Todt would not exceed five years to be served in the Bucks County Prison.
Chairmonte testified that in March of 1980 Robert Todt offered him $800 to kill a woman Todt described as a babysitter. Todt gave Chairmonte a .32 caliber pistol and some bullets. Three days before the shooting Todt went to Chairmonte’s home, woke him up and brought him to Todt’s home. Todt and Chairmonte then drove to Frankford Hospital, where Loretta Todt worked. As explained by Chairmonte, the plan was for him to surprise Loretta Todt as she entered her car after work, take her to a back road and shoot her. Chairmonte was, however, too frightened to carry out this scheme.
A new scheme was developed, and Todt gave Chairmonte a key to Todt’s house. On March 19, 1980, Chairmonte entered the Todt house through the garage, shot Loretta Todt and rifled several drawers to make it look as though a burglary had taken place.
The prosecutor said at trial, “Loretta Todt is stuck for as long as she lives with a bullet in the back of her brain. And that’s sad.”
Robert admitted he was having an extra-marital affair, according to the court documents, but he denied being involved in the shooting plot. “Todt denied hiring John Chairmonte to kill his wife Loretta. Todt admitted that he had gone to Chairmonte’s home and brought Chairmonte to his own house but insisted that he only helped Chairmonte fill out an application for a job,” the court decision says. Robert was with another woman – also a former student – who testified that she thought they were engaged to be married despite the fact he was married to Loretta.
According to a Sept. 8, 1981 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, police interviewed the Todts’ son, Anthony, then 4. “The boy said he woke up hearing his mother screaming.”
When he walked into the hallway, he said a “black man with a ‘T’ carved on his forehead picked the boy up and put him back in bed.” He saw another man “wrestling with Mommy on her bed.” The article describes the senior Todt as a “former special education teacher and wrestling coach at Bensalem High School.”
Robert Todt insisted he was innocent and even, the newspaper reported, filed a $30 million lawsuit against authorities. He claimed that he was “at night school” when the shooting occurred.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a 1981 article, noted that Chairmonte gave shifting stories. In one account, he claimed that Robert Todt went upstairs and he heard a pop. In another story, he said he just went to Todt’s home to fill out job applications. In a third story, he said he was “recruited by Todt” but acted alone and fired the shot at Loretta. The third story was the one the prosecutors argued in court, although Loretta (as with Tony) said there were two men present. A friend of Chairmonte’s testified that he referenced “the guy Todt that wants me to bump off his old lady.”
The story says that police, looking for the murder weapon in a creek to no avail, looked up on a “nearby bluff and saw a man watching them. It was Robert Todt. He said he was on a fishing trip with his son.” When police told him he was being arrested for trying to murder his wife, he said, “So what?” the newspaper reported.
By 1981, the story said, Loretta had filed for divorce and “moved Anthony to another bedroom in hopes of stopping the nightmares.”
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, by 1984, Loretta Todt was Loretta Schmidt, and remarried. The article said that she had once “passionately defended her husband” even after he was accused in the plot. That article said that the state Supreme Court ruled the initial sentence was excessive, so Todt was resentenced to five to 10 years.
That story described how Loretta “regularly took” their two children to visit Robert in prison. A December 1980 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, even when Todt was convicted, Loretta and the two children continued to live with him.
Authorities Haven’t Given a Motive for the Todt Family Murders But Tony’s Life Was Unraveling
For days, family members were desperately looking for Tony Todt, Megan Todt, their three kids, and the family’s dog. Then came the grisly discovery. The sheriff didn’t reveal a motive, but he did say that the department tried to do a welfare check to no avail after a family member asked them to do so. Tony Todt swallowed pills and was taken to the hospital but survived. He’s now accused of murder and animal cruelty.
Although the motive wasn’t released, Todt’s life was unraveling in several ways. His physical therapy license in Connecticut had expired, the family was facing a Florida eviction order, and he was under federal investigation by Connecticut officials.
Authorities now allege that Tony Todt was “fraudulently charging tens of thousands of dollars in fake physical therapy appointments,” according to Hartford Courant, which said he closed the practice in November.
Celebration is a Disney constructed town located near Disney World. As News.com.au put it, it was constructed to be “an alternative life in a world that was struggling to maintain family values. If you wanted to embrace a fantasy world, you wanted to live in Celebration.” The site says the town was a cross between “the set of the original Stepford Wives movie or The Truman Show.”
Concerned family members created a Facebook page for the missing Todts called “Looking for the Todt Family.” They say that they last heard from the Todt family on January 6, 2020, via a text from Tony. Family posts indicated that the couple was from Colchester, Connecticut but was spending time in Celebration, Florida. Tony’s full name is Anthony Todt. Family members indicated on Facebook that the missing Todt family consists of Tony, Megan, Alek, Tyler, Zoe and their dog Breezy.
Tony presented as a loving father on Facebook, writing in 2014, “So many reasons to celebrate and be happy today. 8 years ago this beautiful soul came into our lives and would change our life forever. Happy 8th birthday to my oldest son Alek. You make us smile every day and make us proud of the person you are.” In 2013, he wrote, “Thank you for all the birthday wishes and well wishes alike. I am truly blessed to have a life that I share with my true love and soul mate Meg and our two beautiful children. I am also blessed to have friends and acquaintances like you that bring a smile to my face and a warmth in my heart. I have to say this year hit me the most thus far as I now have a 7 year old!!! May all your lives be happy and full of love!!”
“This is crazy! He’s my mom’s physical therapist. She has seen him like twice a week for YEARS,” wrote one shocked woman on Twitter.
Todt was under investigation. “The Office of the Attorney General can confirm we have an open False Claims Act investigation into Anthony Todt. Beyond that, we are unable to comment or provide further details,” the Connecticut AG’s office told journalist Ashley Afonso.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department wrote on January 13, 2020, “OCSO deputies are conducting a death investigation in the North Village area at Celebration. Media staging area is located at Celebration Blvd and Reeves Street.” They have not provided additional details, nor did they respond to a request from Heavy.com for details on the Todt family’s disappearance, including whether there was an investigation into that.
In a news conference, authorities said, “This is an isolated incident, and all parties involved with this death investigation are accounted for.”
A woman who is an administrator on the family’s page wrote this on Facebook, “I am so sorry to report that 4 bodies have been found (not identified) in celebration, Florida today. Tony is at the hospital. We have no further details and we will update you when we know more. Please pray for the family.” The authorities have not confirmed that information.
Amanda Dukes, a journalist with WESH-TV, shared the above photo of a man being arrested and wrote on Twitter, “Neighbors in Celebration say this is a photo of a man being arrested today by @OsceolaSheriff deputies at 202 Reserve place, a home where they are doing a death investigation. One neighbor says they had called police after not seeing the family’s children for several days.”
Authorities have not confirmed the name of the man under arrest or even that he is, nor have they confirmed that the death investigation relates to the Todt family. However, here’s a screenshot from Florida court records on the eviction showing the same address for the Todts:
Court records show the complaint for eviction was filed against the couple on December 22, 2019 regarding the Celebration home. The case remained open. A summons was sent on December 26.
Dukes also wrote: “This is the home in Celebration where deputies are doing a death investigation. Neighbors say around 9:30 AM the father of the family that lives in the home was seen being ordered out by deputies with guns drawn and was taken away in handcuffs.”
On LinkedIn, Tony Todt said he was the owner of Family Physical Therapy in Colchester and East Hampton Connecticut for more than 11 years. He listed no other employment. He wrote that he had an MSPT in Physical Therapy from Sacred Heart University. He is also affiliated with an LLC called Performance Edge Sports. However, his state license expired in September, and his wife’s was about to expire too.
The Facebook page for Family Physical Therapy describes it as the following: “At Family PT in CT, we use patient-centered approaches to focus on the whole individual, together, as a family. Our experienced clinicians will help you set and reach your goals – from improving daily tasks to training athletes. No matter the cause, we will create a plan that will ensure your success each time you walk through our door!”
The company’s website lists Megan as a physical therapist too.
Tony Todt’s biography on his website reads as follows:
“Anthony J. Todt, MSPT, CSCS, SAQ received his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy 1999 from Sacred Heart University, which included rotations and internships in Home Care, Outpatient Physical Therapy, Wound Management, Acute Post Surgical Therapy, and Inpatient Rehabilitation. Anthony is licensed in California, Florida, and Connecticut and has had the fortune to further his Physical Therapy experience through experiences throughout the country and his involvement in rehabilitating professional athletes, progressive surgical procedures, and continues to improve his knowledge through continuing education in the same. After receiving his Master’s Degree, Anthony became a National Certified Sports and Conditioning Specialist and a NESTA Speed, Agility and Quickness Coach.”
The biography continues: “Before Family Physical Therapy, he also worked at Gaylord Rehabilitation Outpatient Facility where he gained extensive knowledge in Aquatic Therapy and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. He treats using knowledge in Integrative Manual Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Trigger Point Release, Muscle Energy Techniques, Mulligan and Mackenzie Techniques, Specialized Therapeutic Exercise, and Maitland manual therapy techniques. Anthony especially enjoys working with knee injuries, especially those of athletes. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family, coaching in the community, watching his clients’ athletic competitions, and being the fourth kid in his family of two sons and one daughter.”
On the family’s Facebook page, Alicia Schmidt wrote, “Hi, we are looking for our family. We are seeking information on their last communications to others. Please let us know the last time you’ve heard from the Todt’s: Tony, Megan, and the kids. At this time, we are seeking information. Please do not message the family asking for details as it is a sensitive matter and we are just looking for Information. If you haven’t heard from them or don’t even know them, please help us by sharing the page.”
Chrissy Todt Caplet wrote on Facebook, “This is a very personal post but we are asking for your help. Please let me know the last time you have spoken to, texted or messaged my brother Tony, Meg or the kids. In due time we can explain but right now we are looking for them and are worried.”
A woman responded on the family’s page, “Hello, I recognize them from living right around the corner. I’d say the last time I saw them was around Thanksgiving time and they were all walking the dog as a family. I thought that they just went away for the holidays because their blinds are all closed and they still have their decorative pumpkins out in the yard. The wife seemed to be a very nice lady and they appeared to be a very nice family.”
Another wrote, “Tony and I coached our kids in soccer a couple seasons ago. Alek, Tyler and my daughter always play soccer and basketball together outside in our alley. They recently moved across the street from us. I saw them outside maybe a couple weeks ago. Love them all!!! So worried about them. Anything we can do please let me know.”