The father of the man who allegedly confessed to killing his family in their upscale home near Disney World plotted to have the suspect’s mom killed 40 years ago, but the woman survived the shooting.
Pennsylvania court records obtained by PEOPLE show that on March 19, 1980, Loretta Todt — the mother of Anthony Todt, 44, who is currently accused of murdering his family — was shot in a plot engineered by her husband, Robert Todt.
Loretta survived the attack in the family’s Bensalem, Pennsylvania, home, but the bullet “destroyed her left eye and remains lodged in her skull,” according to an appeal by Robert after he was convicted in 1981 on multiple charges — including attempted homicide, criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation — for hiring a hitman to shoot his wife.
The Hartford Courant, citing court documents, contemporaneous newspaper articles and an interview with prosecutor Alan Rubenstein, reports that Robert, a special education teacher, was having an affair with a 17-year-old girl and was engaged to a nurse. To kill his wife, he hired a former student, John Chairmonte, who pleaded guilty to his involvement, the The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 1981.
The Inquirer reported that Loretta stood by her husband’s claims of innocence at the time. When Robert was found guilty, Loretta “broke into tears and moaned, ‘Oh no, oh no.’ She then clenched Todt tightly as he rose to comfort her.”
The Courant reports Robert served about 10 years in prison and Loretta eventually divorced him, having accepted that he’d tried to have her killed.
Anthony Todt faces four counts of first-degree homicide and one count of animal cruelty in the December deaths of his wife, Megan Todt, 42, and their children, Alek, 13, Tyler, 11 and 4-year-old Zoey, along with the family dog.
Authorities have not said how they believe Todt killed his family, nor have they discussed a motive.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
According to Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson, the family may have been dead in their rented Celebration, Florida, home for more than two weeks before their bodies were discovered Monday by federal and local authorities who arrived to serve a warrant on health care fraud charges for Todt. A physical therapist, Todt is accused of defrauding insurance companied of $130,000.
According to a federal affidavit against Todt obtained by PEOPLE, Todd allegedly admitted “adding stuff” to his bills when questioned by federal investigators and acknowledged he was living beyond his means.
Todt was deeply in debt. He owed $99,000 to creditors in New York, USA Today reports. According to the fraud affidavit, Todt also owed more than $6,000 in delinquent rent on his Celebration home. On Dec. 22, the landlord of the family’s condo at Reserve Place filed an eviction notice, serving the family on Dec. 26.
The upscale community of Celebration was originally developed by Disney and backs up to Disney World, WMKG reports.
The outlet reports the town was often formerly referred to as “Disney’s Town of Celebration” but it is no longer owned by Disney.
The Day reports Todt made his first court appearance on Thursday in Osceola County in connection with the deaths but did not enter a plea. The outlet reports he is being represented by a public defender, but PEOPLE was not able to contact his attorney.
It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney in the fraud charge against him.