A Florida man has been arrested after he allegedly shot dead his mother, father, and brother execution-style after a feud with them stemming from his sending about $200,000 of their money to a so-called "cam girl" in Bulgaria.
Grant Amato, 29, was arrested Monday at a hotel and appeared in Seminole County Court on three first-degree murder charges.
Authorities say Amato killed his father, 59-year-old Chad Amato; his mother, Margaret, 61; and brother Cody, 31. Their bodies were discovered on Friday morning at the parents' home in Chuluota, northeast of Orlando.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Cody's girlfriend told investigators that Grant Amato had been "going downhill" after being kicked out of nursing anesthetist school and losing his job following an arrest. She said her boyfriend had told her he was afraid that his brother "would kill everyone."
An arrest report from June shows Grant Amato was suspected of stealing vials of the powerful sedative Propofol from an Orlando hospital He allegedly told investigators he hadn't been using or selling the drug, but had instead been administering it on patients who he believed needed more comfort. He was also said to have expressed suicidal thoughts. No charges ultimately appear to have been filed in that case.
Unemployed, Amato had moved back in with his parents and in June started a relationship with a woman in Bulgaria through a porn webcam site. Margaret Amato had become concerned when the woman began sending mail to the family home after Amato gave her their address, according to Jason Amato, a third son who was not present at the time of the alleged murders.
Jason also said he was aware his brother had stolen $150,000 from their father, which had included taking out a $65,000 loan on his parents' home in order to fund his addiction. Grant Amato was also suspected of taking $50,000 to 65,000 from his brother Cody, as well as Cody's guns, which Amato allegedly sold without permission. All the money was said to have been sent to the unnamed cam girl within a three-month period.
In December, the family had pushed Amato into a rehab facility to treat his pornography addiction, where he stayed for two weeks. "After leaving the facility and returning to Orlando, his family held a meeting where he was presented with a two-page list he would need to follow to remain at the house," authorities wrote in the affidavit.
Chad, Amato's father, told him he would have to cease all communications with the Bulgarian woman. "Grant Amato initially agreed to the the rules his father had set," authorities said, "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 investigators that he secretly continued to write to the woman through his Twitter account. He said when his father discovered the messages on Thursday night, he kicked him out of the house.
Cody's girlfriend told authorities that his father had called him on Thursday night and asked him to come home. When she asked Cody what was wrong, he told her "stupid fucking bullshit," before leaving. When she sent him a text message 30 minutes later to ask if he was OK, he replied, "all ok" and that that she "didn't need to worry about him." That was the last time she heard from him.
Investigators were called to the house on Friday morning after Cody's colleague and his girlfriend became concerned when he did not show up for work at a hospital in East Orlando. Seminole County sheriff's deputies arrived at the house and saw Cody's car in the driveway, but received no response when they knocked on the door, called people's cell phones, or even activated their squad car's air horn.
One sheriff's deputy then used his knife to open a deadbolt on the back door. He immediately discovered a horrific scene: Chad's body was lying in the kitchen in a pool of dried blood, Margaret's body was slumped in a chair at an office desk, and Cody's body was cradled in the fetal position in a garage storage room with blood coming out of his eyes. Both parents had been shot in the head execution-style.
A 9mm firearm was found near Cody's body but a medical examiner said there was no possibility his wounds were self-inflicted. Additionally, a door to the garage where he was found had also been manually closed while bullet impact holes suggested it was open when he was shot. "Based on the gunshot Cody received he would not have been able to close the door after he had been shot," investigators wrote. "The door was not equipped with any self-closing mechanism and would have had to have been manually closed."
There were no signs of forced entry at the home and no obvious valuables had been taken, according to investigators.
Noticing Grant Amato's car was missing, deputies put out an alert for his vehicle. It was found on Saturday at an hotel in Orlando, where Amato was also discovered and willingly spoke with investigators.
He told authorities he had been in "a heated argument" with his father on Thursday night about the Bulgarian woman. He initially said he had left the home and bumped into his brother Cody who was going home to "straighten things out." But he later changed his story and said he had waited at the house until Cody had come home.
He said he came home the next day and saw police cars and a news van outside his family's subdivision, but opted not to call to check on his family. Instead, he said he went to a local Panera Bread and did a search on his phone for "top news stories," where he found a story about the shooting in his neighborhood. "When questioned about why he still would not follow up to check on his family he replied, 'I just didn't want to know,'" according to investigators.
A search of his hotel room unearthed multiple credit cards belonging to his dead brother and father.
Jail records show Amato is being held at the Seminole County Jail on three counts of premeditated first-degree murder. He is set to be formally arraigned on March 29, according to online court records. A public defender listed for Amato did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amato denied to investigators that he had anything to do with his family's deaths, but was said to have acknowledged that he was the only one with both the motive and opportunity to kill them.
During his interview with investigators, Amato was shown crime scene photos of his dead family and was asked if he had any remorse for their deaths. "Grant Amato's response," wrote investigators, "was his family had been blaming him for months for ruining their lives, stealing, and not following the rules of their home, so he might as well be blamed for this too."