She had a budding future as an artist, with a plan to attend to community college before beginning a career in digital media.
But she gave it all up for a man — her father. He became her husband, and then the father of her child. And, ultimately, her killer.
Two years before her death, Katie Pladl's life with an adoptive family started to crumble after she reached out to her biological parents and moved in with them in Virginia — leading to an incestuous relationship that ended in horror last week.
Katie began a relationship with her biological father, Steven Pladl, that led to him leaving his wife to marry his daughter and raise a child with her. But last week, police found all three of them dead, along with Katie's biological father, Anthony Fusco, in a crime spree spanning three states. Police said Steven, 45, killed his daughter/wife, their 7-month-old son Bennet and Fusco before committing suicide. Katie and Anthony Fusco were found shot dead in Connecticut, both buckled up in a pickup truck with the driver's side window smashed, according to the News-Times in Danbury, Connecticut. Police found the baby's body in the family's North Carolina home, and Stephen's in New York.
As a high school senior in Dutchess County, New York, Katie Pladl, then known as Katie Fusco, lived with her adoptive parents and created an art portfolio that depicted the struggles faced by women throughout American history. Her reputation at Dover High School was that of a prolific comic strip maker, the Hartford Courant reported.
On her online art portfolio, Katie wrote, “A pen and something to draw on became a safe place for me. Ink became my weapon against rules and regulations. There wouldn’t be a corner in a classroom or park that didn’t have a secret little character living on it.”
On a section of the portfolio entitled “Future Plans” she wrote that she would be attending Dutchess Community College in 2016 but that she had plans to graduate from SUNY Purchase in 2020. Under another section called “Future Hopes,” She wrote, “One day, hopefully in the near future, art will take an even more important role in my life.”
On her 18th birthday, Katie contacted Steven and her mother in hopes of reconnecting. Just months later, Steven's wife had moved out, as the father and daughter began the relationship that would end in their deaths.
[Photos: Wake County Sheriff]