Police allege Grant Amato's addiction to a live-streaming porn site led him to steal from and then murder 3 family members

By Jeff Truesdell
January 29, 2019 07:41 PM
Seminole County Sheriff's Office

Family tension over a 29-year-old Florida man’s costly obsession with a woman on a Bulgarian internet porn site, into which he poured more than $200,000 of his family’s money, allegedly led him to kill his parents and brother who tried to intervene, police say.

Confronted by those family members and given written rules by his father demanding he end contact with the woman he met on the live-streaming website Cam Girls, suspect Grant Amato told police “he didn’t think [the rules] were fair because he felt that the Bulgarian female was his girlfriend and they had a relationship,” according to an arrest affidavit.

That affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE, alleges that in order to feed his online infatuation, Amato took $150,000 from his mother and father, Margaret and Chad, including a $60,000 loan on their house, and another $60,000 from his brother, Cody, after which he stole and sold his brother’s guns.

Family members who confronted Amato about his actions and the stolen money in recent months were so alarmed by his response that Cody confided to a girlfriend his fear that Amato “would kill everybody,” according to the arrest report.

Police in Chuluota, Florida, in suburban Orlando, discovered the bodies of Margaret, Chad and Cody shot “execution-style” inside the family home Friday morning. They were summoned by Cody’s girlfriend and a co-worker who told police Cody had not arrived for work after being called home by his father the previous night for a family emergency.

Margaret Amato

Authorities then tracked Amato’s car to an Orlando hotel, where he apparently checked in after the murders took place. During an interview with police, he acknowledged the tension over his relationship with the Bulgarian woman whom he called his “girlfriend,” but denied any role in the killings, according to the affidavit from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

Shown photos of the crime scene — his mother bloodied and slumped in a chair over her desk; his father lying on his back in the kitchen; and his brother in a fetal position in a storage closet — Amato, an unemployed nurse, was asked if he had “any remorse.”

He replied that “his family had been blaming him for months for ruining their lives, stealing and not following the rules of the home, so he might as well be blamed for this too,” according to the affidavit.

Cody Amato

He was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, and will plead not guilty when he is due to be formally arraigned on March 26, Amato’s public defenders, Jeffery Dowdy and Jared Shapiro, tell PEOPLE.

Dowdy told reporters after Amato’s initial court appearance on Monday, “I think we have some mental health issues.”

Dowdy also tells PEOPLE: “There just didn’t seem to be that much emotion there, nor did there seem to be too much emotion about the loss of his family. … That was concerning to us, especially for being in jail facing those types of charges.”

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Police have not identified the woman on the other end of Amato’s internet connection, but say his infatuation began after he connected with her on Cam Girls, “an adult web camera website,” starting last June.

Because of what police describe as his “addiction,” Amato was “given an ultimatum” by his father stating that if he wanted to continue living in the family home, Amato would need to enter a 60-day internet and sex addiction program. He did so voluntarily on December 22, 2018, but left the facility on Jan. 4 and returned home, where another confrontation with his father led to the two-page set of rules demanding Amato end his contact with the woman.

Amato told police that his father later learned his son had kept up communications with the woman via Twitter, which led to another confrontation at the home on Jan. 24, the night before the bodies were discovered.

His father kicked him out that night, Amato told police, and he says he left after packing up his things, according to the affidavit. Although he later returned, he says he fled after encountering police cars and media outlets at the home.

Amato currently is being held in the Seminole County jail.

Friends of Cody Amato have created a GoFundMe account to assist with his funeral expenses. “Cody we love and miss you very much,” they wrote. “You were such a wonderful friend to so many of us, such a gifted anesthesia provider, and we are all honored to have shared the time with you that we did.”