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Candles are lit during a vigil for the Todt family. Monday, January 20, 2020.
Candles are lit during a vigil for the Todt family. Monday, January 20, 2020. (Sarah Espedido/Sarah Espedido)

Christina Gerrity struggled with the gravity of what happened in her community: A father accused of killing his three children and his wife in Celebration.

It was horrible. How would she explain it to her 9-year-old son who was friends with two of the victims, his basketball buddies after school?

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“He said, ‘They were smart and funny and sweet,’” Gerrity recalled.

The federal arrest warrant for Anthony Todt details the medical fraud scheme Todt ran from his physical therapy office, defrauding insurance companies and Medicaid of thousands of dollars for services he never provided. The document shows that Todt used those extra dollars to help fund an expensive lifestyle he had created for himself. It also maps out the last few weeks before he was found in his Celebration home, where authorities say he killed his wife, three children and dog.

Dozens of parents, grappling with the tragedy, brought their children with them to sing and pray Monday night during a Celebration vigil. A crowd of about 200 people mourned the family’s deaths at Lakeside Park as the sun set on a cloudless night.

Last week, Anthony John Todt, 44, was ordered held without bail as he faces first-degree murder charges for the killings of his wife, 42-year-old Megan Todt, and their three kids: Alek, 13; Tyler, 11; and Zoe, 4.

Authorities have said the children and their mother were killed around the end of December but haven’t released a motive. Documents show federal authorities were investigating Anthony Todt, a physical therapist, for a health-care fraud scheme.

On Monday night, a group of pastors led prayers for the extended Todt family, the community and the law-enforcement officials who responded to the scene. The crowd lit candles in silence while a bagpipe mournfully played “Amazing Grace." Some wiped away their tears.

The event offered snapshots of the family in happier times.

A Celebration man confessed to killing his wife and three children inside their home, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said Wednesday.

In a framed photograph, Megan Todt cradled her newborn baby and beamed, looking like a proud mother. She was surrounded by her other two children who clung to her, grinning.

Neighbor Ryan Green, who spoke briefly to the crowd, remembered Alek and Tyler as enthusiastic soccer players, always dirty, playing in the mud. Alek didn’t mind stepping up to play the goalie. He was a selfless, “go with the flow” team player, Green said.

“They were like our own kids,” Green said. “They were good people. I don’t know why it happened.”

His young daughter wished she had played longer with the Todt boys if she had known she’d never see them again, Green said.

For Gerrity, she wanted her son, Liam, 9, to know he is safe. His family loves him. His parents would never hurt him.

She reassured him he could still basketball, even if the Todt boys weren’t there anymore. He could pick up the ball himself and invite others to join. It would be OK.

The presence of the Celebration children who are learning about loss was prominent during Monday’s vigil.

About 25 youngsters in the choir from the Celebration Arts Academy, which Gerrity runs, performed.

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“There will be an answer. Let it be,” they sang sweetly, keeping in tune with The Beatles’ chorus.

“The waves of grief will still come, and we will still have moments of confusion. We will never know why," Gerrity said. “But this coming together just proves that in the face of all this evil, there is so much more love.”

Got a news tip? [email protected] or 407-420-5470; Twitter, @GabrielleRusson

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