Florida man wired $200,000 to Bulgarian 'cam girl' before killing family, deputies say

Deputies: Grant Amato, 29, stole money from family to fund online relationship

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Prior to gunning down his parents and brother in their Chuluota home, the man accused of killing them stole $200,000 from the victims to fund an online, pornographic relationship with a woman in Bulgaria, according to a Seminole County arrest warrant.

Grant Amato, 29, was arrested Monday morning and is accused of killing his parents, Chad Amato, 59, and Margaret Amato, 61, and his brother, Cody Amato, 31. They were found dead Friday in their home on Sultan Circle in Chuluota after a coworker reported Cody Amato hadn't shown up for work.

In the three months beforehand, deputies said Grant Amato stole $200,000 from his parents and brother and wired those funds to a woman in Bulgaria with whom he had been communicating since June on Cam Girls, an adult website.

Investigators spoke with the suspect's surviving brother, who said Grant Amato was speaking with an online call girl and sending her large amounts of money. The brother said the girl knew where the family lived, and that concerned Margaret Amato.

Grant Amato told investigators his parents gave him an ultimatum after they learned about the theft: Complete a 60-day internet and sex addiction program, or leave the family home. Grant Amato went Dec. 22 to a facility in Fort Lauderdale and checked out Jan. 4, according to the arrest warrant. 

The suspect entered the treatment facility two days after Chad and Margaret Amato reported Grant Amato missing Dec. 20 and told Seminole County Sheriff's Office deputies their son was suffering from depression, according to the incident report. The couple told deputies Grant Amato had access to firearms and they were "100 percent convinced he will try to harm himself."

The missing persons report was closed with the Sheriff's Office after deputies spoke with Grant Amato and said their evaluation did not indicate he needed a psychiatric evaluation. He told deputies he just needed a break from his mother and did not intend to harm himself.

When he returned from the south Florida facility to his parents' home in Chuluota, they laid out ground rules and said if he broke any of the rules, he would have to immediately leave the home, Amato told investigators.

One of the guidelines Chad Amato set for his 29-year-old son included no communications with the Bulgarian woman. Grant Amato told investigators this was unfair because she was his girlfriend and he continued to talk to her online. Chad Amato learned about their continued relationship and confronted his son on the night of Jan. 24, telling the suspect to leave the house, according to the arrest report.

The family was found dead the next morning, all suffering from "execution style" wounds, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office crime scene analysts.

Investigators said Grant Amato took several steps to try and provide a cover-up story, including writing a fake note from his brother, Cody Amato, that told him to "just please come home."

Cody Amato's girlfriend told investigators that over the past few months, the family had problems with the suspect that included him stealing $60,000 from Cody Amato and his guns. The girlfriend said Grant Amato sold the firearms without his brother's permission.

Cody Amato had previously expressed concern that his brother would kill everyone, his girlfriend told investigators.

A previous arrest report shows Grant Amato was fired from his job at a hospital after he was accused of stealing prescription pills.

Grant Amato was detained for questioning Saturday but was released Sunday. He was arrested hours after his release around 1 a.m. Monday at a Lake Mary hotel.

Amato is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

"This is not a slam dunk for the defense by any stretch,” attorney Steven Kramer said. “This is a case where it is going to depend on really good hard-nose detective work. … Any case like this, where all you have is forensic information and circumstantial evidence and where you don't have eyewitnesses, makes it more difficult to connect the dots."‚Äč

This developing story will be updated.

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