Even as a child, Megan Todt, who grew up to be a doting, hands-on mom of three, was considered the “mother” of her group of friends in Connecticut.
“Megan was always putting together fun activities for us, from watching the life cycle of butterflies to organizing street cleanups,” her lifelong friend, Jennifer Corbett Clerkin tells PEOPLE.
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So when Megan grew up to have three children of her own, she was a natural as a mother.
“When we reconnected as adults on Facebook, she was more than proud to share all her stories about her children,” Clerkin says. “She was such a loving mom. Megan had a true calling.”
Now, all Clerkin has are her memories of the childhood friend who lived a few doors down on the Montville, Connecticut, cul-de-sac where they both grew up.
On Jan. 13, police who’d gone to Megan’s home in Celebration, Florida, found the 42-year-old’s body– as well as those of her 3 children Alek, 13, Tyler, 11 and 4-year-old Zoey and their dog, Breezy, decomposing in the upstairs master bedroom, say authorities.
In late December, Megan’s husband, Anthony Todt, 44, allegedly killed them, living with their dead bodies for nearly two weeks, say police.
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Anthony was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of animal cruelty, court records show.
After the family was killed, authorities said the bodies were discovered by federal and local authorities who’d gone to the house to serve Anthony with a warrant on fraud charges. According to federal records, he was heavily in debt and is facing a health care fraud charge stemming from his physical therapy business.
During questioning, he allegedly confessed to the murders, saying that overwhelming debt and a federal investigation into fraudulent activities at his physical therapy practice led him to kill his family, court records allege.
He pleaded not guilty.
Held without bond in jail as he awaits trial, he faces the death penalty if he’s convicted.
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His lawyer did not respond immediately to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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In the meantime, Megan’s friends and family are left to mourn her loss.
Anthony Todt and children
Recalling all the time she spent with Megan as a child, Clerkin says, “I don’t remember not knowing her. She was always just there.”
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With both of their mothers serving as leaders of their Girl Scout troop, the two went camping and trick or treating with their dads for Halloween.
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Taking the best care of her children as possible was Megan’s top priority, Clerkin says.
Megan, she says, wanted “to raise her children all-natural, from what they ate to homeschooling to cloth diapers,” she says.
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When Clerkin recently had her last child, “Megan reached out to me instantly…with all her tips and advice from breastfeeding to co-sleeping,” she says. “I remember her checking in weekly to see how I was doing.”
Though they kept talking about plans for Clerkin to visit Megan and her family in Florida, that never happened.
She can’t believe her friend is gone. “Her smile was like sunshine,” she says.
“What happened doesn’t make sense to any of us and I don’t think it ever will,” said Clerkin.