The story of Steven Pladl and Katie Pladl is not the typical father-daughter tale; it is one that is both complex and disturbing. This shocking story has garnered a significant amount of attention. “We are all still in shock,” said Shirley Mann, a neighbour of Katie’s adoptive parents in Dover. “It is truly unbelievable. I am at a loss for words. It is a tragedy.”
The officer working on the case stated: “We may never understand the mindset or motives of Steven Pladl, but we do know his actions have shattered the lives of countless people.”
Steven Pladl met Alyssa Gracia
In 1995, when Steven Pladl was 20 years old, he met Alyssa Gracia, a 15-year-old girl, through the Internet. Their relationship soon resulted in Alyssa’s pregnancy, and in January 1998, she gave birth to a baby girl named Denise.
Unfortunately, according to Alyssa, Steven displayed abusive behavior towards their infant daughter. Alyssa described instances where Steven would pinch Denise, causing her body to be covered in black and blue bruises. Despite the abuse, Alyssa chose to stay with Steven and eventually married him.
Being a young couple facing financial struggles, they made the difficult decision to give Denise up for adoption when she was eight months old. Alyssa expressed her immense difficulty in parting with her daughter but ultimately wanted Denise to have a chance at a better life filled with happiness.
Denise was adopted by Anthony and Kelly Fuso and her name was changed to Katie Fusco. She moved to Dutchess County, New York, to live with her adoptive parents, Anthony and Kelly.
“It was so hard to give her up,” Alyssa said, “but I had to because I wanted her to live and be happy.”
In 2007, Alyssa gave birth to another baby girl, marking a new chapter in their lives. Alyssa stated that they were more mature and prepared for parenthood at this stage. Then, in 2012, the family welcomed a third daughter into the world, completing their family unit.
Katie Pladl Comes Back Home
Katie Pladl, who was given the name Katie Fusco after being adopted by Tony Fusco and his wife Kelly, had a relatively ordinary life. Growing up in Dover, located approximately 80 miles north of New York City, she was raised alongside her biological sister by her loving adoptive parents. Cary Gould, Kelly Fusco’s brother, fondly remembers Katie as someone who enjoyed the food and was nicknamed “Pac-Man” due to her constant eating. She had a strong affinity for animals and followed a vegetarian lifestyle.
Katie was also a talented aspiring artist known for her ability to create captivating comic strips. She harbored dreams of attending college and pursuing a career in digital advertising. In her own words, she found solace and expression through drawing, stating, “A pen and something to draw on became a safe place for me.”
When she turned 18 in January 2016, curiosity led her to search for her biological parents on social media, eventually reconnecting with Alyssa and Steven, who were thrilled to have Katie back in their lives. Despite her initial plans to enroll in a local community college after graduating, Katie chose to move in with her parents and siblings in Henrico County, Virginia. However, the situation between Alyssa and Steven was far from ideal, as they had already been sleeping separately for several months prior to Katie’s arrival.
Alyssa confided that she always felt uneasy around Steven, given his volatile mood swings, frequent outbursts, and destructive behaviour in front of their children. She even revealed to Katie that Steven had subjected her to abuse when she was just a baby, which was the heartbreaking reason for their decision to put her up for adoption. Surprisingly, Katie didn’t appear disturbed by this revelation.
Steven’s demeanour dramatically changed after meeting Katie. He started dressing in trendy attire and grooming himself meticulously to impress his own daughter. Just six weeks after Katie moved in, he began sleeping on the floor in her room. When Alyssa confronted him about this disturbing behaviour, he dismissed her concerns and left the house with Katie.
As a consequence, Alyssa decided to move out of the house in November 2016, sharing custody of their two children with Steven. Although she had suspicions about the nature of the relationship between Steven and Katie, she had no idea of the extent to which it had progressed.
Katie became pregnant with Steven’s child
In May 2017, Alyssa came across a deeply troubling secret while reading her daughter’s diary. The diary entries exposed an illicit relationship between Katie, her daughter, and Steven, her ex-partner, and Katie’s biological father. Furthermore, the diary revealed Katie’s pregnancy, strongly suggesting Steven’s paternity. Most disturbingly, it became evident that Steven had begun reshaping the family dynamics, insisting that their other children regard Katie as their stepmother rather than their sister.
The diary’s content was alarming, marked with unnerving drawings of Steven and Katie adorned with devil horns and tails, signifying the young girl’s perception of their acts. The child’s words further echoed her confusion and anger: ‘Katie is pregnant. Dad suggests they’re behaving like a couple. Was it a drunken mistake? My father’s behaviour is utterly shameful.’
In her despair, she compared her father to Satan himself, ominously stating, ‘He won’t suffer in hell, rather, he’ll be the one torturing people.’ This painful analogy led her to speculate about the unborn child, wondering, ‘If he’s Satan and Katie is human, does that make the baby half-demon?’
In another revealing entry, the young girl wrestled with a disturbing declaration from her father, ‘He refers to Katie’s child as his own. Did he cause her pregnancy? He even calls her my stepmother now. He doesn’t want me to address her as my sister anymore.’
Alyssa was overwhelmed with shock and disbelief upon learning about the incestuous relationship and pregnancy between Katie, her daughter, and Steven, her ex-partner, and Katie’s biological father. She recounted the moment she confronted Steven about the pregnancy, saying, “I started to become hysterical, and I called him. I said, ‘Is Katie pregnant with your baby?’ He just said, ‘I thought you knew. We’re in love.’”
The weight of the situation hit Alyssa hard, and she couldn’t contain her emotions. She screamed at Steven, expressing her anger and disgust, saying, “I was just cursing him out: ‘How could you? You’re sick. She’s a child.’”
Upon Alyssa’s report, the police initiated an investigation, conducting interviews with Steven and Alyssa’s children. However, due to undisclosed reasons, no immediate arrests were made. The stark reality of this harrowing tale serves as a reminder of the deeply hidden and disturbing secrets within families.
Steven and Katie Pladl wedding
On July 20, 2017, just two months after finalizing his divorce from Alyssa, Steven Pladl married his own daughter, Katie, in Parkton, Maryland. In order to proceed with the ceremony without objections, they deceitfully lied on their application, claiming to be unrelated.
The wedding was attended by guests, including Steven’s parents and Katie’s adoptive parents. Tony and Kelly Fusco, Katie’s adoptive parents, made the challenging choice to support Katie in her decision to marry Steven. Tony said, “There was nothing they could do, and had decided it was best to support Katie” They believed it was best for Katie and posed for the photo alongside Steven, Katie, and Steven’s mother.
Katie and Steven’s Child
Katie gave birth to the child on Sept. 1, the named the child Bennett. They moved to a house in Knightdale, North Carolina, hoping for a fresh start. However, their happiness was short-lived. In January, Katie and Steven were arrested and faced charges of incest.
Despite the charges, they were released on bond but were ordered to have no contact with each other. Custody of Bennett was granted to Steven’s mother, and Katie moved back in with Tonu and Kelly Fusco, her adoptive parents. As part of their arrangement, Katie would travel to her grandmother’s home in Waterbury, Connecticut, every Tuesday and Thursday.
This arrangement allowed Katie to maintain a connection with her family while complying with the court’s order to stay away from Steven. It was undoubtedly a challenging and emotionally charged period for Katie and the rest of her family, grappling with the aftermath of the disturbing revelations and legal proceedings.
Steven Pladl Ends It All
On the night of April 11, 2018, Steven Pladl, fully aware that Katie, his daughter, would be visiting her grandmother the next day, drove to New York to confront her. Katie had made the difficult decision to end the relationship with Steven and was planning to live with her adopted grandmother. In a desperate attempt to maintain control, Steven made a chilling series of actions.
Before meeting Katie on April 11, Steven took their child from his mother’s house without her knowledge. He then brought the baby back to his own residence, where he tragically suffocated the innocent child and hid the body in a closet.
Subsequently, Steven set himself outside Katie’s home and observed as she departed with her adopted father in a vehicle. He followed them until they reached a stop sign located between routes 7 and 55. It was at this point that Steven carried out a heinous act, shooting both Katie and her adopted father, resulting in their untimely deaths. In a final act of self-destruction, Steven turned the gun on himself.
Immediately after these horrific events, Steven’s mother dialled 911 and informed the dispatcher that her son had killed the child who was under her custody. She recounted the chilling details, stating, “He left the baby dead, he told me to call the police and I shouldn’t go over there… His wife broke up with him yesterday over the phone. She’s in New York, and he told me he was on his way and after bringing the baby to her, and then he was coming back.”
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