Authors: Dave Collins and Denise Lavoie

What started out as a joyful reunion of a young woman with her birth parents soon turned sour, then shocking, and finally deadly.

A young woman named Katie married her birth father, had a baby with him and, after she decided to leave him, lost her life to him along with that of their child and her adoptive father. All three were laid to rest this weekend in upstate New York.

“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.”

Katie, whose last name was Fusco at the time, had no idea before she moved in with Steven Pladl and his wife in August 2016 that he had an explosive temper, a history of abusive behavior and owned at least four guns.

In 1995, Steven Pladl was 20 when he met a 15-year-old girl named Alyssa on the internet. She soon became pregnant and gave birth to a girl they named Denise.

Alyssa Pladl told The Associated Press in an interview last week that they put the girl up for adoption when she was 8 months old. They were young and poor, she said, but she also believed Steven Pladl physically abused the baby. In her interview, she did not elaborate.

“It was so hard to give her up,” Alyssa said, “but I had to because I wanted her to live and be happy.”

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