A Florida man has been found guilty of murdering his wife and children and killing their dog at their luxury home near Walt Disney World in 2019.
Anthony Todt, 46, was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a court outside Orlando on Thursday, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
After more than six hours of deliberations, the jury uninanimously convicted him of killing his wife Megan Todt, 42, their children Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoe, 4, and their dog Breezy.
Judge Keith Carsten called Todt a “destroyer of worlds”, imposing four consecutive life sentences and saying: “Not one of those lives was less valuable than the other.”
Todt, a physical therapist from Connecticut dubbed the “Disney Dad”, denied the charges, claiming he was not there the night his family died and that they were “first and foremost in [his] life”.
Police had visited Todt’s house in Celebration, a planned community originally set up by the Walt Disney Company, on 13 January 2020 as they attempted to arrest him on charges of healthcare fraud, which have not yet been resolved.
Federal prosecutors had been investigating him since April 2019 on suspicion of billing health insurance companies for medical treatments that he never performed through his physical therapy business in Connecticut.
The investigators discovered Todt living with his family’s bodies, decomposing and wrapped in blankets. A medical examiner testified that they had been dead for “at least a couple weeks”.
Prosecutors had alleged that Todt had formed a murder-suicide pact with his wife so they could enter the afterlife together, saying: “Everybody needed to die in order to pass over to the other side together because the apocalypse was coming.”
In his testimony, Todd claimed that his wife had killed the kids and then killed herself, leaving him uncertain what to do, and that he afterwards tried multiple ways of joining them.
He said that his wife had become obsessed with reincarnation due to worsening health problems and believed the killings were necessary to allow the family to be revived in a better life. He denied any memory of confessing to detectives that he had killed the family himself.
However, prosecutors alleged that he had been motivated by “wanting control over the lives of his kids and over the life of Megan”, saying he had used his family’s phones to send texts to their relatives.