If you are experiencing domestic violence please do not hesitate to reach out for help. You may find the following helplines and resources useful:
1800 respect (AUS) / National helpline (UK) / Asian Pacific domestic violence task force (USA) / Women’s health Gov. (USA) / Helplines worldwide (WORLDWIDE LIST)
If you are a child / know of a child suffering from abuse at home or elsewhere, please alert an adult, such as a relative or teacher. If you do not have someone to confide in please visit one of the following resources:
National child abuse helpline (AUS) / Child Helpline (USA/CAN) / Child helpline (UK) / Worldwide child helpline 1 and 2 (WORLDWIDE)
Deciding to put a child up for adoption is always a difficult decision to make. Denise Pladl was put up for adoption by her mother in the early 2000’s following continued abuse from her dad. Denise was only a baby at the time, but her father, an angry and aggressive man in his twenties named Steven Pladl, pinched her skin until she was hues of black and purple and shoved her into a locked cooler when she cried to muffle out the sound. Sometimes he would try to stop her crying by covering her mouth with his hand to the point that she almost suffocated. Steven never held or bonded with his daughter and displayed no paternal feelings towards her.
Denise’s mother, 17 year old Alyssa, was just a teenager when she met Steven online in the 1990’s. In a recent interview Alyssa claimed that Steven groomed her and convinced her to leave her home in Texas to elope with him and start a new life in New York City. During their time together Steven often threatened his young partner and told her that if she ever attempted to leave him he’d commit suicide and make sure that she would see it. Alyssa witnessed his aggression and violence on many occasions, including once when he beat a cat to death with his bare hands simply because he “didn’t like cats”. He never once had a job and would instead stay home while Alyssa held down several jobs to keep their heads above water.
She could no longer take seeing her baby daughter being abused- the abuse was getting progressively worse and she knew one day it would lead to the death of her only child if she didn’t intervene. Alyssa decided put Denise up for adoption in the hope that she would have a better future in the care of foster parents who would give her the love she deserved. Denise Pladl changed hands, and names, and would be known as Katie Fusco from then onwards. Alyssa told Steven that depression was the reason behind putting their first born up for adoption- a lie that served to protect Katie.
As Katie got older she became curious about her biological parents. She utilized social media to seek out Steven and Alyssa and began exchanging messages with them. The online chats would eventually lead to an in-person visit and when she was 18 years old, Katie set off from her home in Wingdale New York to finally meet her biological parents in Richmond, West Virginia.
Katie’s biological parents had raised two additional children since putting her up for adoption. The new girls were 6 and 11 years old at the time she re-joined her natural family in their home.
Alyssa found a quiet moment to pull Katie aside and reveal the reasons why they had given her up all those years ago: “Your dad abused you” she told the girl. Katie did not react as expected, in fact, it seemed as though she had no reaction whatsoever.
In a turn of events, Katie actually got along extremely well with her biological father, so much so that after a month of staying there he even began to sleep on the floor of her room.
Not only did Steven’s behavioral patterns change, but so did his image.
Despite being in his 40’s, Steven Pladl went through a complete image overhaul; he grew out his short hair past his shoulders and switched out his dad-wardrobe for tight tees and skinny jeans. It was an image that would appeal to a much younger crowd, especially his daughter who wore dark clothes and had an edge to her style.
Alyssa was planning to separate from Steven around the time that Katie had come to stay with them. When the time came to move out, Katie neglected to join her mother and younger sisters in favor of living with her unemployed father. From this point, the story would only continue to get worse.
Alyssa was reading through the diary of one of her younger children when she happened upon an entry that stopped her in her tracks. One paragraph detailed that their dad had informed them that they had to start calling Katie “mom” instead of “sister”. A drawing of a girl with a large stomach accompanied the writing- surely this had to be a misunderstanding? Surely there was no way Steven Pladl would have begun an incestuous relationship with his own daughter whom he aggressively abused all those years ago?
Alyssa received a phone call from Steven in late September of 2017 informing her that he planned to marry and start a family with someone else- and that someone else was his own daughter, Katie Fusco.
It became clear with the benefit of hindsight that the pair had been having an affair together almost the entire time Katie had been staying with them in the family home.
Katie Fusco and her father had indeed tied the knot- they had even conceived a child together just as Steven Pladl had said they would. Photos of the wedding were published to social media and show Katie clad in a black mini-dress and heeled boots, her stomach ballooned with pregnancy. In the one of the images she is kissing her father next to the text “July 20th”. In another photograph the father and daughter stand between Steven's mother, and shockingly, Katie’s foster parents, the Fuscos, who are smiling next to the father-daughter couple.
After four months Katie was sent packing back to her adoptive parents in New York City. She had been living in Virginia with her husband/dad when they were arrested for incest- a class five felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years if convicted. Katie wanted out of the relationship.
The events sent an already aggressive and unstable Steven Pladl into a rage. He decided that suicide was the only way out and went to go grab his gun. First, though, he had some unfinished business to take care of- Katie. Since he didn’t get the opportunity to abuse his daughter to death 20 years ago, he decided to pick up where he left off and finish the job.
On the 12th of April 2018 Steven Pladl shot Katie Fusco and her stepfather to death as they drove to Waterberg in their minivan.
He also executed the seven month old son he and Katie had together.
Steven’s body was found later that day. He had committed suicide with a bullet to the head. A campaign of abuse that Pladl had started all those years ago came to a tragic conclusion in the form of a triple-murder suicide.