The Story Of The Man Who Murdered His Family For A Woman He'd Never Even Met

On the morning of January 25, 2019, authorities were sent to a Chuluota, Florida, home for a welfare check. As stated by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, they were contacted by 31-year-old Cody Amato's co-worker when he failed to report to work and could not be reached. According to the caller, Cody had never missed a day of work since he was hired by Advent Hospital East Orlando.

When authorities arrived on scene, they initially knocked on the front door. However, as nobody responded, the deputies began walking around the perimeter of the home, knocking on all of the windows and doors. When nobody responded to the knocking, they attempted to open the windows and doors, but they were all locked.

Authorities noted there was a car in the driveway and two others in the garage, which indicated someone should be inside the house. Therefore, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Moderson used a knife to bypass the deadbolt on the front door so he and his colleagues could enter the home. Once inside, they made a gruesome discovery.

Grant Amato's entire family was found murdered and he was missing

As reported by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, the deputies found a white male, who was later identified as 59-year-old Chad Amato, laying on his back on the kitchen floor. Authorities noted Chad was surrounded by a pool of blood and was determined to be deceased. As they continued their search of the home, deputies found Chad's son, 31-year-old Cody Amato, laying in a fetal position on the floor of a storage room with blood seeping from his eyes. Sixty-one-year-old Margaret Amato, Chad's wife, was found in her office, seated in a chair, with her upper body slumped on the desk and covered in blood. Both Cody and Margaret were also declared dead.

Authorities said they knew the family, as they had been called to the residence on at least one other occasion, and noted Chad and Margaret's other son, 29-year-old Grant, was absent from the scene. They also determined his vehicle was not in the driveway or the garage.

Grant Amato had a history of mental illness

In the hours after discovering Chad, Margaret, and Cody dead, authorities issued a BOLO for Grant Amato and his vehicle. They also began interviewing friends of the Amato family. According to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Cody's girlfriend, Sloan Young, said Cody and Grant had several disagreements in recent weeks. Young said Grant had ongoing mental health issues, and had recently stolen $60,000 and several guns from his brother. Young also revealed Grant has been admitted to a mental health facility.

In the months prior to the murders, Grant had been expelled from school, where he was pursuing a certification to become a nurse anesthetist. He also lost his job when he was caught stealing prescription medication and remained unemployed.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office eventually learned Grant had developed feelings for a Bulgarian woman, whom he met through a website specializing in pornographic material. Authorities estimate Grant stole $200,000 from his family to log in to the website and chat with the woman.

Grant Amato admitted arguing with his father but denied killing anyone

On January 26, 2019, authorities located Grant Amato's vehicle in the parking lot of the Double Tree Hilton hotel in Orlando, Florida. The Seminole County Sheriff's Office also verified Grant was a registered guest of the hotel. Later that same afternoon, a deputy approached Grant at the hotel and the suspect agreed to accompany him to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office for questioning.

During questioning, Grant said his parents learned about his communications with the Bulgarian woman, and had prohibited him from sending her money or continuing to talk to her. Although he initially agreed, Grant said he decided to continue speaking with her, as they were in a relationship.

When Chad learned that Grant was still in contact with the woman, and was stealing money to send to her, Chad told Grant to move out. As a result, Grant and his father got into a verbal altercation that began to turn physical. According to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Grant said he eventually left the house. However, he insisted he did not physically harm or kill anyone before he left.

Grant Amato was arrested and charged with three counts of murder

Grant Amato was ultimately determined to be solely responsible for the deaths of both his parents and his brother. He was subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree premeditated murder.

As reported by AETV, Grant maintained his innocence. His defense team argued that authorities had tunnel vision and failed to question or investigate any other suspects in the murders. However, Click Orlando reports prosecutors insisted Grant shot and killed his family because they did not support his relationship with the Bulgarian woman.

One particular document, which was a letter Grant sent to several of his friends, outlined how deeply he had descended into his fantasy life. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the letter addressed several things he told his friends that were simply not true. In the letter, Grant apologized for deceiving them about his lifestyle. He said he was sorry for telling everyone he was a professional gamer who drove a BMW and owned his own home. In reality, he was unemployed, drove a Honda Accord, and lived with his parents. The Virginian-Pilot reports Grant also expressed his anger toward his parents in the letter, and stated that they had forced him to enter a rehabilitation facility to address his internet and sex addictions.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Grant Amato was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole

Grant Amato was found guilty of all three counts of first-degree murder. Although he was facing the death penalty, The Cinemaholic reports he was ultimately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, at this writing he is serving his sentence at the Okeechobee Correctional Institution.

In a telephone interview with a producer working on a documentary about the case (via WESH2), Amato maintained his innocence. He also suggested it was difficult to adjust to being in prison. Amato said, "You know, it's not so much the ... the verdict that came back, it's just ... coming to terms with ... the time that I'm going to have to wait." Amato also discussed his fellow inmates, saying, "You know, you are surrounded by a lot ... of people that are doing ... either a lifetime of crimes and they're terrible people, or they are people in my situation who are innocent and they're just trying to get through it as fast as they can."

As reported by Spectrum News 13, Amato's public defender, Jeff Dowdy, filed an appeal of his conviction, citing several procedural issues with the trial. Dowdy said there were concerns with the jury selection procedure, certain evidence that was allowed, and the inclusion of a theory about the murder weapon, which was never found.