Thursday morning, police in Connecticut, North Carolina and New York found themselves at three crime scenes. Among the dead were Steven Pladl, Katie Pladl and an infant who authorities say was their son. They also found the body of Katie Pladl’s adoptive father, 56-year-old Anthony Fusco, Knightdale, N.C., police chief Lawrence Capps said during a news conference.
In a 911 call Thursday, Steven Pladl’s mother said her son told her he killed 20-year-old Katie Pladl, Fusco and the baby. Police then found Steven, who was 43 or 44, in a minivan in New York on Thursday. He had apparently fatally shot himself.
Police in Knightdale, where Steven lived, said in a statement that authorities are no longer seeking a suspect in the baby’s death.
The killings set off a multistate investigation, during which police attempted to find connections and understand why Thursday ended in tragedy, Capps said.
“We’re trying to make sense of all of the factors that led up to this senseless taking of life,” Capps said.
It all began about two decades ago.
After she grew up, she went looking for her biological parents and in August 2016 moved in with Steven Pladl, her mother and the couple’s two other children, CBS 17 reported. The Pladls then lived just west of Richmond, according to CBS 17.
However, the reunited family wasn’t whole for long, as Katie Pladl’s mother legally separated from Steven Pladl months later and moved out, according to warrants for the arrest of Steven and Katie that were reported by CBS 17.
Less than a year later, Katie Pladl’s mother came across horrifying information in a journal belonging to one of her other daughters, CBS 17 reported, citing the warrants. Steven Pladl, she learned, had gotten Katie Pladl pregnant and even told his other children to refer to their sister as their stepmother, according to the warrants.
The mother called Steven Pladl and asked whether what she read was true. Her ex-husband confirmed he was the father and said he and Katie Pladl planned to get married, the warrants said.
In an interview with WTVR CBS 6, Katie Pladl’s mother said she was unaware a “sexual relationship” had started between her daughter and ex-husband until she read the journal entry.
Katie Pladl’s mother then took out protective orders to prevent Steven Pladl from going near her or her younger children, according to WTVR CBS 6.
The news station also reported that Steven and Katie Pladl married in Maryland and moved to North Carolina.
The couple shared photos of themselves with a baby and created a baby registry, according to WTVR CBS 6.
But the plan was shattered when Steven and Katie Pladl were arrested in January at their home in Knightdale after warrants were issued in Henrico County, Va., the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.
Knightdale police also found a baby boy at the couple’s home, who was reportedly born in September 2017, according to CBS 17.
In February the couple was extradited from North Carolina back to Virginia to face felony incest charges, among other things, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. The felony charge carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Both Steven and Katie Pladl were released on bond with orders not to contact each other, WTVR CBS 6 reported. Steven Pladl’s bond conditions also prevented him from living in the North Carolina home he shared with his daughter.
Katie Pladl was released on the condition that she move back with her adoptive parents, who live in New York. However, she was allowed to travel out of state, according to WTVR CBS 6.
The instructions to stay away from each other didn’t stop Katie Pladl from calling Steven Pladl on Wednesday to break up with him, reported CBS 17, citing information in the 911 call made by Steven Pladl’s mother.
That night, Steven picked up the baby, who had been in his mother’s care in Cary, N.C., according to the call.
On Thursday, Steven Pladl’s mother called 911 saying her son had called her and said he had killed the baby, Katie Pladl and her adoptive father, CBS 17 reported. “He left the baby dead,” the caller said. “He told me to call the police.”
According to Capps, at about 9 a.m. Thursday, Knightdale police went to the home where Steven lived and discovered the infant’s body. He could not say how the child was killed.
About 20 minutes earlier and roughly 600 miles away, police in New Milford, Conn., had also been called to a crime scene.
When they arrived, they found Katie Pladl and her adoptive father shot to death in a pickup truck, Capps said. Over the course of the day, Steven Pladl was also found, Capps said. Police confirmed he had killed himself in his car after driving into New York.
“We’re very saddened by today’s events,” Capps said. “Events like this are not common in our community. Unfortunately, they are not uncommon in society. We are heartbroken, saddened over the death of this child.”