AN incestuous father who had a baby with his daughter is believed to have murdered the infant before killing the young woman, her adoptive father and then himself.
Police in three US states are now scrambling to piece together the circumstances leading up to the terrible tragedy.
Local authorities said Steven Walter Pladl, 43, was found dead in New York at around 9am on Thursday.
The bodies of Katie Pladl, 20, and her adoptive father Anthony Fusco, 56, were discovered in Connecticut a short time later.
Officers found the lifeless body of the Pladl’s seven-month-old son Bennett in the North Carolina home they shared just after 9am.
The tragedy comes just two months after Steven and Katie Pladl were charged with incest after authorities learned they had married with a newborn child in a case that made world headlines.
Steven Pladl’s mother called 911 to ask for a welfare check on Bennett after her son told her in a phonecall that he had killed the boy, according to WTVR.
Police say Pladl’s mother had custody of the child, and that he picked up the baby from her Wednesday night.
“My son just called me and, ah, he told me he … oh my God. He killed his baby and he’s in the house,” the distressed woman can be heard telling the dispatcher.
“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.”
The woman states her son then revealed he had killed Bennett, Katie and her adoptive father.
“He left the baby dead,” she tells the dispatcher. “He told me to call the police and I shouldn’t go over there. He killed his wife. He killed his father and I can’t even believe this is happening.”
Pladl married his daughter Katie last July while she was heavily pregnant with their child in a secret ceremony.
Pladl and Katie’s birth mother Alyssa had given her up for adoption shortly after she was born in 1998.
The three were reunited in June 2016 after Katie tracked them down via social media. Within months, Pladl separated from Alyssa and began a sexual relationship with Katie.
Pladl and Katie were arrested in January this year after Alyssa read the diary of her 11-year-old daughter, who had documented her sister’s affair with their father, even drawing pictures of Katie pregnant with an arrow pointing to the “demon” inside.
Father and daughter were each charged with incest, adultery, and contributing to delinquency and their mugshots splashed across international media in a case that shocked the world.
But their relationship imploded this week when Katie, who was living with her adoptive parents, the Fuscos, in New York as per her bail conditions, broke up with her father in a phonecall.
Investigators believe it was that phonecall that set Pladl off on a killing spree.
Knightdale Police Chief Lawrence Capps told reporters Pladl killed his son after picking him up from his mother’s house in Cary, North Carolina on Wednesday night.
He then drove almost 1000km to New Milford, Connecticut and shot dead Katie and Anthony Fusco as they sat in a ute, before making his way across the state line and killing himself.
Officers searching for a van with North Carolina plates that witnesses had linked to the double shooting found it just over the New York State line in Dover about eight km away.
When police approached the still-running vehicle, they found Pladl dead at the wheel, police told the Hartford Courant.
This morning, Pladl’s lawyer Rick Friedman said there was no way authorities could have known he would go on a killing spree if released on bail.
“This is a terrible tragedy that nobody foresaw. I really believe that if the judges or the prosecutor or the defence attorneys in this case had any clue that the minor child or anyone would be harmed there would not be a bond set for any of the parties,” he told WNCN.
“This is a tragedy for everyone involved. We are all heartbroken.”
1998: Katie Pladl born to Steven and Alyssa Pladl and legally adopted to the Fusco family of New York.
2016: Katie Pladl turns 18 and uses social media to find biological parents
Aug 2016: Katie Pladl moves in with Steven Pladl and her biological mother near Richmond, Virginia
Nov 2016: Steven Pladl and wife legally separate; wife moves out
May 23, 2017: Steven Pladl’s wife reads child’s diary that says Katie is pregnant with Steven’s child
May 31, 2017: Authorities interview Steven Pladl’s two other children
June 2017: Steven and Katie Pladl move to a home Knightdale, North Carolina
July 2017: Steven and Katie Pladl marry
Sept 2017: Katie Pladl gives birth to Steven’s child, warrants say
Nov 29, 2017: Henrico County police issue arrest warrants for Steven and Katie Pladl
Jan 27, 2018: Steven and Katie Pladl are arrested at their Knightdale home
April 11, 2018: Steven Pladl picks up child from his mother’s home in Cary, North Carolina
April 12, 2018 at 8:40am: Steven Pladl is found dead in Wingdale, New York. Katie Pladl and her adoptive father are found dead in New Milford, Connecticut
April 12, 2018 at 9am: Steven Pladl’s mother calls for a welfare check for her son’s Knightdale home. Seven-month-old Bennett is found dead in the home.