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Posted: January 31, 2019

Police: Florida man killed parents, brother over $200K sent to porn site ‘girlfriend’


By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

CHULUOTA, Fla.  —

A Florida man has been charged with gunning down his parents and older brother after investigators say he stole more than $200,000 from the family to send to a Bulgarian woman he met on a pornography website, court records show. 

Grant Tiernan Amato, 29, is charged with three counts of premeditated first-degree murder in the deaths of Chad Amato, 59, Margaret Ann Amato, 61, and Cody Amato, 31, who were found dead in the family’s Chuluota home Friday morning. The unemployed registered nurse is being held without bond in the Seminole County Jail. 

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Seminole County court records show that sheriff’s deputies found the family’s bodies just after 9 a.m. Friday after Cody Amato’s co-workers at Advent Hospital East Orlando requested a welfare check because he had not shown up for work. According to Grant Amato’s arrest affidavit, his brother had never missed work before. 

Deputies who went to the home got no response when they knocked at the house’s doors and windows, and no one inside the home responded to an air horn blasted by the deputies, the affidavit said. Calls to the residents’ cellphones also went unanswered. 

Cody Amato’s green Honda sedan was in the driveway and two more vehicles were in the garage, the document said. 

Concerned for the welfare of those inside, a deputy used a knife to bypass the deadbolt on the house’s back door and went inside, where he found Chad Amato lying dead in a large pool of blood on the kitchen floor. 

Cody Amato was found curled in a fetal position, blood coming from his eyes, in a nearby storage room, the affidavit said. Margaret Amato was found dead in a home office, slumped over the desk with her face covered in blood.

Autopsies performed on the victims indicated that Chad Amato was shot twice in the head, including one execution-style shot to the back of the head as he lay on the floor, the affidavit read. Margaret Amato was also shot execution-style in the head. 

Cody Amato was standing near a door to the garage when he was shot in the face, the document said. A 9 mm handgun was found near his body. 

There was no sign of forced entry and nothing of value was taken from the home, investigators found. The handgun near Cody Amato’s body may have been placed there to suggest he was the shooter, but the pathologist who conducted the autopsies found that the 31-year-old’s wounds could not have been self-inflicted. 

Investigators also learned through blood splatter evidence that the door leading to the garage was open when Cody Amato died. Body camera footage from the first deputies on the scene, however, showed that the door was closed when they arrived. 

“Based on the gunshot Cody received, he would not have been able to close the door after he had been shot,” the detectives concluded. “The door was not equipped with any self-closing mechanism and would have had to have been manually closed.”

Deputies, having had prior contact with the home’s residents, knew that another son, Grant Amato, lived there. They found that his 1996 white Honda Accord was missing from the driveway. 

A “be on the lookout” bulletin, or BOLO, was issued for Grant Amato and his car, which was spotted by toll cameras traveling later that morning and afternoon, the affidavit said. 

‘Going downhill’

Meanwhile, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office investigators spoke to Cody Amato’s girlfriend, identified as Sloan Young, who told them the brothers had been having problems over the past few months because Grant Amato was accused of stealing $60,000 from his brother, as well as guns, which he sold without Cody Amato’s permission. 

“Sloan said that Grant Amato had been placed in a facility in South Florida due to him being unstable (records show this admission was voluntary),” the affidavit said. “Sloan said that she and Cody had a conversation where Cody told her that he was afraid that Grant Amato would kill everyone.”

The girlfriend told investigators that Grant Amato had been “going downhill” since he was kicked out of school, where he was studying to become a nurse anesthetist. He was unemployed after being fired from Advent Hospital Orlando in June 2018 after he was accused of stealing eight vials of propofol, a heavy-duty sedative typically used during surgery. 

An arrest report from Orange County indicates that Amato admitted stealing the drug, a substance that contributed to the 2009 death of pop icon Michael Jackson, to give to patients he felt were not being adequately sedated by doctor-ordered medication. He was arrested and charged with grand theft, though the charge was dropped in November. His nursing license remained active at the time of his arrest on the murder charges. 

See the report in Grant Amato’s June 2018 grand theft arrest below. 

Grant Amato Propofol Arrest... by on Scribd

Amato’s family had also discovered that he was having an online relationship with a woman in Bulgaria, Sloan told investigators. He stole the $60,000 and guns from his brother in order to continue contacting the woman, the affidavit said.

“It was later learned that Grant Amato had stolen approximately $200,000 from the family to purchase time to interact with the female on a pornographic website,” the court document stated. “Sloan also stated Grant Amato was arrested for stealing drugs from his prior employer and had lost his job.”

Grant Amato sent the $200,000 to the Bulgarian woman in the span of three months, the affidavit said. The money he allegedly stole from his parents included a $65,000 loan on the family’s home.

Sloan told investigators that she and Cody Amato were at work the night before the bodies were found when Chad Amato called his son and told him to come home because something was wrong. When she asked Cody what was wrong, he responded, “Stupid (expletive),” and left. 

Sloan texted Cody Amato later that day to check on him and got a text back saying he was OK and she didn’t need to worry. It was the last contact she had with him, the affidavit said. 

She and another co-worker called the police the following day when Cody Amato failed to show up for work. 

Read the seven-page affidavit in Grant Amato’s arrest for murder below. 

Grant Amato Arrest Affidavit by on Scribd

The affidavit stated that investigators talked to another Amato brother, Jason Amato, on Friday. Jason Amato told them he was not close with his family and saw them only a few times a year but that he talked to his mother weekly. 

When asked if there was anyone who would hurt his family, Jason Amato told detectives about the woman in Bulgaria to whom Grant Amato had been wiring an excessive amount of money. The woman had sent mail to Grant Amato, at which point Margaret Amato became concerned because the woman had the family’s physical address. 

The last time Jason Amato saw his brother, he said, was on Dec. 22, when the family talked Grant Amato into entering a Fort Lauderdale rehab facility for sex and internet addiction, the affidavit said. Given an ultimatum by their father, Grant Amato was supposed to complete a 30-day treatment program if he wanted to continue living at home. 

Grant Amato left the facility after just two weeks, investigators said. 

“Jason said he last spoke to Margaret on Jan. 16 … and she said everything seemed OK and Grant Amato had been applying for work,” the affidavit said. 

‘(I) might as well be blamed for this, too’

Grant Amato was tracked down Saturday at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Orlando, where he had registered at about 2:47 p.m. on the day of the slayings. He went voluntarily with detectives to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Sanford, where he was interviewed. 

In the interview, he admitted to having a heated argument with his father the night of Jan. 24, at which time he was kicked out of the house over his internet romance. He told detectives his father had given him a two-page list of rules after he’d left early from the Fort Lauderdale rehab facility. 

One of those rules was that he was to have no contact with his Bulgarian paramour. 

“Grant Amato initially agreed to the rules his father had set, but he didn’t think they were fair because he felt that the Bulgarian female was his girlfriend and they had a relationship,” the affidavit said. 

He told investigators that he continued his contact with the woman through his Twitter account, but his father found out and kicked him out the night before the slayings. He said Cody Amato had come home and said he would try to straighten things out after Grant Amato left. 

Grant Amato claimed that was the last he’d seen any of his family. 

He told investigators he went back to his family’s neighborhood the next day and, after initially saying he saw nothing out of the ordinary, he told them he’d seen a police car and news van parked near the entrance to the subdivision. He claimed he went to a Panera Bread restaurant in East Orlando and, after searching for top news stories, found one about the triple shooting. 

He said he recognized the fence and driveway in the pictures and suspected it happened at his house, the affidavit said. When asked why he did not try to contact his parents or brother, he said, “I just didn’t want to know.”

Detectives showed him crime scene photos of his slain family and asked if he had any remorse for the killings. 

“Grant Amato’s response was, his family had been blaming him for months for ruining their lives, stealing and not following the rules of the home,” the document said. “So he might as well be blamed for this, too.”

The suspect denied responsibility for his family’s deaths but admitted he was the only one with a motive and opportunity to commit the crime. 

A search of his hotel room turned up multiple credit cards in his father and brother’s names, the affidavit said. He was subsequently charged with murder in his family members’ deaths. 

Several photos on both Grant and Cody Amato’s Facebook pages show them holding weapons. Both brothers were members of a competitive airsoft team called Remedy, according to the team’s Facebook page.

It was not clear if they remained on the team together at the time of the slayings. 

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