The Truth About Murderer Daniel LaPlante's Childhood

In 2019, murderer Daniel LaPlante was denied parole for the triple murder of Priscilla Gustafson and her children Abigail and William (via MassLive). "This case does not involve a single act that resulted in three deaths," wrote Middlesex Superior Court Judge Hélène Kazanjian (via CBS). "Mr. LaPlante committed three distinct and brutal murders. He killed a 33-year-old pregnant mother and her 5-and 7-year-old children. He left a family and community devastated. The court finds that the maximum penalty is warranted."

LaPlante's crime was indeed heinous, and it grabbed national headlines when he was arrested for it in 1987. LaPlante had broken into Gustafson's home, raped her, shot her twice in the head, and drowned both of her children in separate bathtubs, leaving her husband widowed and childless (via Justia). While those murders were undeniably shocking, though, LaPlante's earlier activities were, in many ways, strange on their own.

Daniel LaPlante: From a troubled childhood to a career in home invasion

According to true crime writer Joe Turner, LaPlante had an unhappy childhood from the word "go." Born in Townsend, Massachusetts, LaPlante was sexually abused by both his father and his stepfather. He was described as "creepy" and "weird" by his classmates and eventually referred to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with hyperactivity disorder, but also began sexually abusing him (via the Boston Globe).

In his teen years, LaPlante began breaking into homes — at first just to commit petty theft, but eventually, he began to take more pleasure in simply moving things around and leaving things behind, attempting to psychologically torment the residents. In 1986, he decided to take his home invasion to the next level.

LaPlante began making phone calls to the home of 15-year-old Annie Andrews, who had recently lost her mother to cancer. He eventually convinced her to go on a date with him, but she found him just as unsettling as his classmates did, and excused herself quickly.

How a home invasion was a premonition of his later murders

Several days afterward, Annie and her sister Jessica began hearing a tapping sound in their bedroom walls. At first they thought their deceased mother was trying to contact them, but then they began to find sinister written messages like "I'm in your room. Come and find me," and "Marry me."

Eventually, their father found himself face-to-face with a boy in his wife's makeup and clothes, brandishing a hatchet. It was, of course, LaPlante, who had been living in a crawl space behind their walls. LaPlante was arrested and held in a juvenile facility for several months — but eventually skipped bail and committed the Gustafson murders. Ironically, the only reason he was able to post bail was because the state had decided to try him as an adult (via Talk Murder with Me).

LaPlante is currently serving three consecutive life sentences, and won't be eligible for parole till 2032. So, sleep well?