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.”
The story of Katie and Steven Pladl isn’t the normal father-daughter story, it involved a lot. The disturbing story caught a lot of attention. “We’re all still in shock,” said Shirley Mann, a neighbor of Katie’s adoptive parents in Dover. “It’s crazy. I don’t know what else to say. It’s horrible.”
Steven Pladl met Alyssa Gracia
In 1995, Steven Pladl, 20 at the time met 15-year-old girl Alyssa Gracia on the internet. Soon Alyssa became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl named Denise in January 1998.
According to Alyssa, Steven was abusive towards their infant daughter, she told that Steven would pinch their infant daughter until her body was left black and blue. Despite all this, Alyssa stayed with Steven and ended up marrying him.
The couple was young and poor, so they decided to put Denise up for adoption when she was eight months old. She told in an interview that “It was so hard to give her up, but I wanted her to live and be happy.”
Denise was adopted by Anthony and Kelly Fuso, where she was given a new name, Katie Fusco – she moved to Anthony and Kelly’s home in Dutchess County, New York.
In 2007 Alyssa gave birth to another child – a baby girl, Alyssa stated that they were “more grown up and ready” to have children at this stage of their life. In 2012 the family welcomed another member, a third daughter to Steven and Alyssa.
Katie Pladl Comes Back Home
Katie was an aspiring artist at Dover High School for drawing comic strips. She planned to attend college and pursue a career in digital advertising. “A pen and something to draw on became a safe place for me. Ink became my weapon against rules and regulations, To be short, for me, a life without art is no life at all.” she wrote on a blog post.
After turning 18 in January 2016, Katie became curious about her biological parents. She started tracking the town and found Alyssa and Steven on social media and messaged them. The parents were happy to reunite with her.
Katie had plans to enroll in the local community college after her graduation, but she moved in with her parents and her sisters in Henrico County, Virginia. Things weren’t going great with Steven and Alyssa, the couple had already been sleeping in separate beds for months before Katie arrived.
“I was always on eggshells, whatever his mood was, everybody knew, and that mood was often not happy, a lot of yelling, a lot of things smashed in the house, in front of her kids,” Alyssa said. She even told Katie that Steven Pladl had abused her when she was a baby and that is why they had to give her up for adoption, but Katie didn’t appear to be concerned.
Steven’s behavior completely changed after he met Katie, he began wearing skinny jeans and form-fitting shirts to look good and impress his own daughter, he even shaved his beard and let his hair grow long. Six weeks after Katie moved in, Steven began sleeping on the floor in her room. When Alyssa confronted him, he said it was none of her business and stormed out of the house with Katie.
Alyssa moved out of the house in November 2016, she shared custody of her two children with Steven. Alyssa only had a suspicion about their relationship but she had no idea how far it had gone.
Katie became pregnant with Steven’s child
In May 2017, Alyssa found out about the incestuous relationship and about Katie’s pregnancy from her 11-year-old daughter’s journal. Her daughter also mentioned that she and her sister were told by Steven(their father) to refer to Katie as their stepmom rather than their sister.
When Alyssa called Steven and asked “Is Katie pregnant with your baby?” he replied, “I thought you knew. We’re in love,” to which she started screaming, she started cursing him out: “How could you? “You’re sick. She’s a child.”
After the call, Alyssa called the police. Police officers interviewed Steven and Alyssa’s children, but no arrest was made.
Katie and Steven Pladl’s marriage
Two months after his divorce from Alyssa was finalized, Steven Pladl married his daughter, Katie in Parkton, Maryland on July 20, 2017. No one said anything because they lied on their application, saying they were unrelated.
The wedding ceremony was filled with guests, including Steven’s parents and Katie’s adoptive parents. Katie’s adoptive parents believed that there is nothing they could do and it was best to support Katie.
Katie and Steven’s Child
Katie gave birth to her father’s baby, they named the boy Bennett. Katie and Steven moved to a house on a cul-de-sac in Knightdale, North Carolina, but the happy time for the newlyweds did not last long. Katie and Steven were arrested on incest charges in January.
They were released on bond and ordered to have no contact with one another. Steven’s mother was granted custody of the child, Bennett. Katie moved back with Tonu and Kelly Fusco. Every Tuesday and Thursday she would travel to his grandmother’s home in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Steven Ends It All
Steven Pladl knew that Katie would go to visit his grandmother on April 12. On the night of April 11, Steven drove to New York to catch Katie who was leaving New York to live with her adoptive grandmother.
Katie called Steven to end the relationship. Before meeting her on April 11, 2018, Steven stole their baby from his mother’s house. He then brought the baby back to his house, where he suffocated him and left the body in a closet.
Steven waited outside their home and watched Katie and her adoptive father leave together in a vehicle. He followed them and when they stopped at a stop sign between routes 7 and 55, Steven shot Katie and her adoptive father, killing them both, before turning the gun on himself.
Steven’s mother called 911, she told the dispatcher that her son said that he had killed the baby that was in her custody. “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.”
Alyssa Pladl struggles to make sense of it all.” I’m grieving. I’m sad. I’m upset, But I also want to have something good come out of this. If it’s to get the truth out there, to open people’s eyes to incest.”