For the last two years, all Kellie Ball has been wanting is answers.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled the country, her brother, Anthony Todt, was arrested for murdering his wife, their three children, and the family dog—and letting their bodies rot inside a three-story rental home on the outskirts of Disney World. The arrest came after Ball said she and her other relatives had asked the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department several times to check in on her brother’s home in Celebration, Florida, where the family fell off the grid.
It was on Jan. 13, 2020, as Ball was out to dinner with her husband for his birthday, that she said she got a message about the death investigation that has since plagued her and her loved ones.
“We have a million questions about what happened that day. And we don’t even have access to information because we are not victims,” Ball, a 45-year-old administrative assistant, told The Daily Beast. “All we want to know is what happened to our family.”
Anthony Todt’s trial, set to begin with jury selection on Monday, offers the prospect of some insight into how a physical therapist accused of fraud allegedly snapped, poisoned his family with allergy medication, and stabbed three of them to boot.
In some ways, the case may seem open-and-shut. After all, authorities say, Todt has issued not one or two but three murder confessions in which he admitted to the quadruple homicide—though the details of his confessions have been kept under wraps.
But one of those admissions was thrown out by a judge because the 45-year-old defendant was not properly read his Miranda rights. And given Todt’s subsequent insistence that it was his wife who decided to murder their children and stab herself, many of those closest to the man remain utterly flabbergasted about what may come next.
“I am anxious about the trial, but anxious to finally get answers. Not really about the outcome,” Ball said. “I’m just ready to hear some actual evidence.”
Todt, originally from Connecticut, has pleaded not guilty to all counts—including homicide and animal cruelty—after previously admitting to killing his wife, Megan, 13-year-old Alek, 11-year-old Tyler, 4-year-old Zoey, and the family dog “Breezy” inside their rented home. While he was taken into custody on Jan. 13, 2020, authorities believe his family was killed “sometime toward the end of December,” suggesting they had been allowed to deteriorate for a matter of weeks.
Orange-Osceola public defender Robert Wesley, who is representing Todt, declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Court records reviewed by The Daily Beast indicate that family members last saw Todt on Nov. 22, 2019, in Connecticut. The final meeting came the day after Todt met with federal authorities about an investigation into his physical therapy business—an encounter in which authorities say he admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from Medicaid and private insurers by way of fraud.
High-school sweethearts, Todt and his wife had moved their family down to Florida a few years prior, but the physical therapist still commuted back and forth to Connecticut to maintain his business. During his final trip to the Constitution State, Ball told The Daily Beast her brother was alone—but she did not notice anything particularly out of the ordinary.
Prosecutors say Todt’s family grew worried about the family of five just after Christmas and repeatedly asked Osceola Sheriff’s deputies to perform a wellness check at the rental home on Reserve Place. At one point, an FBI agent who had been investigating Todt’s Connecticut business also grew concerned and likewise asked the Florida sheriff’s office to locate the physical therapist.
“I’m wondering if someone can do a wellness check on my brother and his family,” Chrissy Caplet, another of Todt’s sisters, said in a Dec. 29, 2020, call to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, according to court records. (Caplet did not respond to a request for comment for this story.)
Ball said that one of her biggest frustrations was her conviction that local authorities did not seem to take her and her family’s worry about the Todts seriously at first.
“If someone could have gone in on the 29th, would things have been different?” Ball, who noted she has known Megan since middle school, asked in an interview. “We were totally not taken seriously every time we called.”
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
Larry Gula, one of Megan’s uncles, told The Daily Beast that he last spoke to his niece at the end of December, or right around the time of her death. He said that the mother-of-three had been “super excited” to move to the Orlando area and believed it was “going to be a fun time for everyone.”
“The last thing I said to her was stay safe,” he added. “She was the apple of my eye.”
Also a physical therapist at her husband’s Connecticut practice, Megan has been described by friends and family as a “loving” person whose true calling was to be a mother. Neighbors in Celebration previously told The Daily Beast that Megan was homeschooling her three kids while her husband commuted back and forth from Connecticut.
“She adored her children. That’s what makes this all that much more heartbreaking,” Lori Leighton, one of those neighbors, told The Daily Beast in January 2020.
Ultimately, it took federal agents and deputies entering the home to exercise an arrest warrant for his alleged financial crimes on Jan. 13 for police to get in contact with Todt. He was “holding onto the railings of the second floor of the residence, attempting to walk down the stairway,” an arrest affidavit said.
When asked about where his missing family was located, police say “Anthony then advised that his children might be at a friend’s house for a sleepover but his wife Megan was upstairs sleeping.”
“Anthony then yelled out ‘Megan,’ but received no response,” the affidavit said.
During a search of his home, deputies found the heavily decomposed bodies of Megan, 13-year-old Alek, 11-year-old Tyler, and 4-year-old Zoey, in the upstairs master bedroom—all covered in blankets. Circuit Judge Keith Carste ruled that jurors will be allowed to see graphic photographs of the bodies at trial.
The Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner’s Office would later conclude the four were killed by “unspecified violence” combined with overdoses of Benadryl—and that all but the 4-year-old had sustained stab wounds. The report noted that Megan was stabbed twice in the stomach, while the two boys both sustained a single wound to the abdomen. But authorities have not given any public indication of what weapon may have been used.
An arrest affidavit noted that “Anthony could barely stand and appeared to be shaking,” during the grisly discovery, telling police he consumed Benadryl in an attempt to die by suicide. Later, Todt would confess to killing his family in three police interviews.
Ball said that when she found out about the investigation—not from police but by way of the news and messages from other people, like the one who got the night of her husband’s birthday dinner—her first reaction was to believe it was about some other family.
“Honestly, we’re still waiting for them to contact us to tell us our family is dead,” Ball said.
One Celebration neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions, told The Daily Beast that the community was still desperate for answers.
“To think that something horrific was going inside that house, and nobody had any idea and was walking past unaware, is just devastating,” the neighbor in the Orlando enclave originally designed and built by the Walt Disney Company as the “community of tomorrow” said. “Had we known something was wrong, we would have helped immediately.”
Six months after admitting it all, Todt completely changed his story, telling his father in an explosive June 2020 prison letter that it was actually his 42-year-old wife who used a tainted “Benadryl pudding pie” to kill their children. Todt also claimed in the letter that after Megan had confessed to killing the kids, she drank a bottle of family-sized Benadryl and stabbed herself in the stomach. (Todt’s father, Robert Todt, could not be reached for comment.)
“Long story short, she gave them the Benadryl/Tylenol PM pie, separated them, woke up at 11:30 [p.m.], stabbed and then suffocated each one,” Todt wrote in the letter first reported by the Orlando Sentinel. “At the news of this I ran to the bathroom and puked—I was weak.”
“I love my wife, still, very deeply, and it will be the hardest thing to sit there and tell everyone that it was her that did this when I was not home, and then she [died by] suicide in front of me,” he wrote.
Ball declined to comment on Todt’s note or his state of mind heading into the trial, and would not say whether she believed her brother was guilty, but did confirm that he continued to send her family letters.
“We will never know what ever happened in that house because the only person that was in the house is him. We’ll never know,” Ball added. “For me, I just want to know directly from the court what facts they have so we can finally feel some peace.”
Donald Jones, a law professor at the University of Miami, told The Daily Beast that it would be in Todt’s interest for his attorneys not to use the letter in their defense strategy.
“If I was his lawyer, I would try to keep that letter out. I think that letter could hurt him. It sounds self-serving. I would not make that argument at all because I don’t think—to put it simply, [it] is not a good look for him,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, the confessions loom—even if they have been muddied over time.
Last month, Judge Keith Carsten ruled that the first of Todt’s three confessions at the hospital must be excluded from the trial after detectives failed to fully inform him of his constitutional rights. In previous motions, Todt’s defense attorneys also claimed the father of three told police during the initial interview that his head was “spinning a little” and that he was “in a fog right now.”
“The Miranda warnings recorded on the audio tape were inadequate and incomplete,” Carsten wrote in his March ruling. “Regardless of [Todt’s] apparent lack of hesitation to speak with the Detectives, and their lack of coercion or promise, [Todt’s] waiver of his Miranda protection cannot be found to be knowing and voluntary, as he was not afforded a full and complete advisement of his rights.”
The two subsequent confessions, however, have been deemed legally sound after Todt was read his full Miranda rights—though his defense team argued in pre-trial motions that at least one of the confessions should be deemed inadmissible because their client was suicidal and dealing with Benadryl overdose.
“The law is clear,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told The Daily Beast. “If an improper Miranda warning is given, followed by a correct warning, a confession followed by the correct warning and waiver is admissible.”
Rahmani, however, noted that Todt’s defense is “desperately trying to suppress the confessions because it’s their only chance of an acquittal in this case.” If two confessions are in fact allowed in court, the former prosecutor noted that Todt’s team might try to re-litigate the Miranda issues on appeal after a seemingly inevitable conviction.
Carsten also ruled that neither the federal health-care fraud investigation—which was dismissed last February—nor his mental health after his arrest can be mentioned during the trial.
Rahmani argued that there is no way jurors would be swayed by Todt’s claim that his wife was the true murderer. And since the defense has already said they are not using an insanity argument, the former prosecutor struggled to see any outcome but conviction.
“He confessed and the subsequent confessions are coming in [as evidence],” he said. “His jailhouse writings are completely inconsistent with the confession, and they are factually inconsistent. Todt is incredibly arguing that his wife killed their children and dog, then [died by] suicide in a very painful way by stabbing herself.”
But even with the hopeful mindset of getting some justice for Megan and her three children, Gula, her uncle, was bracing for the trial to “really bring back a lot of painful memories.”
“It’s going to hurt. Period.”