Crime

Florida man killed family after fight over $200,000 he sent to online ‘girlfriend,’ cops say

A Florida man is facing murder charges in the deaths of three of his family members following an alleged fight over him sending $200,000 to a woman on an adult camera website, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

Grant Amato, 29, is charged with killing his parents, Chad Amato, 59, Margaret Amato, 61, both of Chuluota, and brother Cody Amato, 31, of Orlando, according to the sheriff’s office.

In an interview with deputies detailed in the arrest warrant, Grant Amato said he and his father got into an argument and he was previously kicked out of the Chuluota home because he was spending money to talk to a woman he met in June on Cam Girls, an adult camera website.

Jason Amato, Grant Amato’s brother, told investigators Grant Amato was talking to “an online call girl in Bulgaria” and stole $150,000 from Chad Amato. The family learned Grant sent to woman more than $200,000, according to the arrest warrant.

Grant Amato’s father told him he needed to complete an internet- and sex-addition program, which Grant Amato said he went to Dec. 22 and left early, on Jan. 4.

When he got home, Grant Amato said his father handed him a list of guidelines he needed to follow to remain in the house, including cutting off communications with the woman he met online, who he called his girlfriend. But the communication continued, which started an argument between Grant Amato and his father, according to the warrant.

Cody Amato’s girlfriend told investigators there were problems with Grant Amato, who she said stole $60,000 from her boyfriend and sold his guns without permission. She said Cody Amato told her he was “afraid Grant Amato would kill everyone.”

The girlfriend told deputies Grant Amato had been kicked out of nurse anesthetist school and was unemployed.

She said, according to the warrant, her boyfriend told her he got a call Friday from his father, Chad Amato, saying he needed to come home. She later texted Cody Amato and got a reply that said everything was OK, but did not hear from him again.

When Cody Amato did not show up for work on Friday at Advent Hospital East Orlando, a concerned coworker asked deputies to perform a welfare check.

Deputies arrived Friday morning and noted three vehicles parked at the home on Sultan Circle in Chuluota, but no one answered the door and attempts to reach those inside were not successful.

Using a knife to unlock a deadbolt on the back door, deputies entered the home, where they discovered the bodies of Chad Amato, Margaret Amato and Cody Amato.

Deputies knew, based on prior experience with those who lived there, that Grant Amato also lived in the home and that his car was not parked nearby, according to the arrest warrant. The search began for Grant Amato and a white Honda Accord.

The car was found at a hotel in Orange County on Saturday, where Grant Amato was also found in a hotel room.

He was taken into “investigative detention” Saturday but was released as the sheriff’s office continued to investigate, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“We were aware at all times where he was and he was cooperating with the investigation,” sheriff’s office spokesman Bob Kealing told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was under constant, uninterrupted supervision.”

Grant Amato was arrested Monday at a hotel in Lake Mary after deputies obtained a warrant for three counts of murder.

When asked by detectives during an interview if he regretted killing his family, Grant Amato replied “his family had been blaming him for months for ruining their lives … so he might as well be blamed for this too.”

“There’s some issues there, I think we have some mental health issues,” Jeffery Dowdy, Amato’s public defender, told Fox 35. “A few months ago ... he had checked himself into an internet sex addiction facility in Fort Lauderdale. He had walked off there.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, authorities were called at least twice concerning Grant Amato’s behavior.

A previous arrest report shows Grant Amato was fired from his job at a hospital after he was accused of stealing medication,WKMG ClickOrlando reported.

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