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Daniel LaPlante-The 17-Year-Old Who Raped And Murdered A Pregnant Mom , And Then Drowned Her Two Kids

In December 1987, Daniel LaPlante tormented the family of a girl he was stalking by secretly living within their walls for several weeks.

By Rare StoriesPublished about a year ago 5 min read

Daniel LaPlante was 17 years old in 1987 when he brutally murdered Priscilla Gustafson and her two children in Townsend, Massachusetts.  A year before this  LaPlante terrorized another family by living within the walls of their home for weeks

LaPlante, a known local burglar, had meticulously established a reign of psychological dread throughout Townsend and the surrounding communities.

LaPlante, a known local burglar, had meticulously established a reign of psychological dread throughout Townsend and the surrounding communities. Then, on December 1, 1987, the Gustafson murders occurred, sending LaPlante to prison for the rest of his life.

          The Traumatic Early Years Of

Daniel LaPlante was born in Townsend, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1970, and he allegedly endured terrible sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of his father and then his psychiatrist during his youth.

LaPlante attended St. Bernard's High School in Fitchburg, where peers and instructors described him as a loner and an unfriendly individual.

According to the Boston Globe, a neighbor became concerned about LaPlante's frequent solo excursions into the woods behind his home in the 1980s. "You would see him walk out there alone. The forest is the only location you would see him.

LaPlante had a very troubled childhood

LaPlante became a neighborhood thief at the age of 15 after being diagnosed with hyperactivity condition by the doctor who allegedly sexually molested him. The psychiatrist allegedly diagnosed him with the disorder after sexually abusing him. 

To frighten his neighbors, LaPlante began leaving things behind and moving objects around in their homes. 

He grew obsessed with 15-year-old Tina Bowen in 1986. They attended the same school, and during the Easter break, LaPlante took her on a date. Some pupils informed Bowen upon her return to school that LaPlante was facing rape allegations, and according to her father, Frank Bowen, that was the end of the matter. Or so he believed.

  Turning into The Boy Within the Walls

Late in the fall of 1986, Daniel LaPlante got access to the Bowen residence at 93 Lawrence Street in Pepperell, close to Townsend, over the course of several weeks. From a tiny six-inch-wide crawl area, he subjected the family to psychological torment.

After observing Tina and her sister use a ouija board to communicate with their recently deceased mother, LaPlante began mimicking a ghost. TV channels were altered, objects were repositioned, and milk was eaten inexplicably. He even emptied wine bottles without consuming them and wrote frightening messages such as "marry me" and "I'm in your room, c ome and find me,". 

A police sketch of LaPlante’s hiding place in the Bowen residence.

Frank Bowen initially felt his girls were playing pranks on each other, but he quickly discovered the truth was considerably worse. On December 8, 1986, the girls went home to find that their toilet had been used.

Frank Bowen discovered LaPlante in a closet, face painted, wearing a Native American-style jacket and ninja mask, and brandishing a hatchet.

LaPlante ordered them into a bedroom before vanishing from the residence. Tina Bowen escaped through a window and called the police, who found LaPlante in the house's cellar two days later.

LaPlante had evidently been living for weeks in a triangular space in a corner, enclosed on two sides by the concrete foundation and an inner wall.

LaPlante was held in a juvenile facility following his arrest at the Bowen residence until October 1987, when his mother remortgaged her home to secure his $10,000 bail. Two months later, he committed his most severe crime.

The Horrifying Gustason Killings

While awaiting trial, LaPlante moved into his own residence and proceeded to commit daytime burglaries. On October 14, 1987, he took two.22 caliber weapons from a neighbor's residence.

On November 16, 1987, LaPlante broke into the home of the Gustafson family, which consisted of pregnant nursery school teacher Priscilla Gustafson, her husband Andrew, and their two children, William, age five, and Abigail, age seven.

The Gustafson family

However, this was not the last time LaPlante would break into their home. On December 1, 1987, armed with a.22 caliber pistol, LaPlante strolled across the woods separating his home from the Gustafson's. He later stated that he had not anticipated Priscilla and her children to return home. The subsequent events are every family's greatest nightmare.

According to retired Pepperell lieutenant Thomas Lane, LaPlante considered fleeing by jumping from a window. Instead, he faced Priscilla with the gun and escorted her and her son to the bedroom, where he placed William in the closet and tied Priscilla to the bed with improvised ligatures and gagged her with one of his socks.

After Priscilla was raped, Laplante fired two shots into her head. Afterward, he brought William to the bathroom and drowned him. As he was leaving, he ran into Abigail Gustafson, who had taken the school bus home. He enticed Abigail into a second bathroom, where he also drowned her.

Daniel LaPlante Is Given A Life Sentence

Andrew Gustafson had been calling his wife throughout the afternoon. Gustafson thought the worst upon returning home to an eerie house with no lights on. First, he discovered his wife face down on the bedspread, dead. He then fled the residence and phoned the police. Later, he said that he declined to search for the children out of fear that he would discover them dead.

Using forensic evidence, LaPlante was implicated in the crime. The shirt and gloves he wore to drown the children were even discovered still wet in the woods behind the Gustafson residence.

Dogs tracked the scent of the clothes through the woods to within three to four feet of LaPlante's residence. The evening following the Gustafson murders, LaPlante was questioned. The police planned to return the next day with sufficient evidence to capture LaPlante, but he fled and a large manhunt followed.

On the evening of December 3, 1987, LaPlante was discovered hiding in a dumpster and apprehended during another burglary spree in Pepperell.

In October 1988, LaPlante stood trial for the Gustafson murders, and a jury convicted him guilty of murder. He was sentenced to three life terms.


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