Details emerged as law enforcement in three states stitched a timeline of Steven Pladl’s motives and locations in a killing spree that left his biological daughter – also his wife –dead, along with their infant son, and the wife’s adoptive father.
Steven, 42, met his biological daughter Katie Pladl when she was 18 and moved down to Henrico, Virginia from New York to live with them. A year later, Steven left his wife and then allegedly married Katie. Pictures captured the ceremony and extended family acknowledged the nuptials – though incestual marriage is illegal in North Carolina and Virginia.
The couple shared a home in North Carolina, where their son Barrett was born in September 2017. In 2018, Steven and Katie were jailed in Henrico on charges of incest and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Once released on bond, Steven moved back to North Carolina, and Katie was released to the custody of her adoptive parents, Kelly and Anthony Fusco, in New York.
The infant had been in the custody of the paternal grandmother since the couple was arrested, according to Knightdale Chief of Police Lawrence Capps. That was Steven’s mother heard on the 911 call, who detailed the murders her son had just told her about.
At 8 p.m. Wednesday, Steven asked to take the child back to his home in Knightdale, and told his mother he and the baby were going to Skype with Katie that evening.
Then shortly before midnight on Wednesday evening, Steven told his mother he was taking the baby to see Katie in New York. This would violate the terms of his bond, amended by Henrico County Judge Stewart Williams.
The two spoke again at about 7 a.m. Thursday, when Steven told his mother that he and the baby were in New York, nearing the location where they would meet Katie.
At about 8:45 a.m., called his mother again and confessed that he had just killed Katie and her adoptive father, Anthony. When asked about the baby, Steven told his mother he had killed the child and left him at the residence in Knightdale.
That’s when the mother called 911 and told dispatchers that “his wife broke up with him over the phone yesterday.”
Through a voice that trembled sometimes, and was steady at others, the mother detailed what her son reportedly told her.
“He killed his wife, he killed her father,” she said.
“He left the baby dead,” she added.
Though police have not confirmed how Steven knew where Katie and Anthony were, the possibility exists that Steven also lied to Katie that the baby was with him, and she was going to see the baby with her dad accompanying her.
Connecticut authorities have said they are “not sure what brought them there.”
"I can't even believe this is happening."
Shortly afterward, New Milford, Connecticut Police Department confirmed an earlier shooting near the intersection of Route 55 and Route 7 to be a double homicide involving Fusco and Katie.
New Milford Police Chief Shawn Boyne said that Steven was several cars behind Katie and her adoptive father when he pulled around to the passenger side of their pick up and began firing with an arrow assault type rifle, similar to something like an A.R. 15.
Multiple witnesses at the busy intersection saw Steven fire shots that hit the victim’s heads and torsos.
In a 911 call, a witness to the shooting described the situation to a dispatcher.
“Somebody just went by and shot this guy in the truck,” said the caller.
“We need the police. We need everybody. There are two people in the car,” the caller continued.
“I just seen the vehicle pull alongside of it, and the shots coming out the side of the window going through the truck,” the caller said.
Just a few miles away, in Dover, New York, Steven was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in a light blue minivan with North Carolina registration.
Police have not released the cause of the infant’s death, but Chief Capps said the child did not sustain any noticeable injuries or trauma. The pending autopsy exam and toxicology report are expected to shed more details on the manner and cause of death.
Shirley Mann watched Katie, who she called a “beautiful young girl” grow up in Wingdale, New York and was close friends with Katie`s adoptive parents.
“We adopted too,” Mann said. “So, there`s like a kinship there.”
“Shock, numb, we don`t know how to feel,” she said. “We can`t believe it.”
A former Henrico neighbor was shocked, also.
“It’s stranger than fiction here, you couldn’t write this stuff,” said Gregory Comforto, who lived in the house where Katie first joined Steven’s other family. He was married and had two daughters with his wife Alyssa. They decided to give Katie up for adoption because Alyssa was 17 at the time.
“When I saw him holding her, I assumed it was something romantic but as I said, I knew she was a lot younger, so I was just scratching my head,” Comforto said.
“My reaction? Ahh did he not go to biology class in high school this is like, beyond the pale something you just don’t do,” he added.
The investigation continues, and more details, along with autopsy findings, will be released at a later time.