Frank Bowen dismissed his teenage daughters’ fears of a ghost in their Pepperell, Massachusetts, home, blaming them on overactive teenage imaginations. He had no idea that a real ‘ghost’ was lurking behind their home’s walls–a teen who would go on to ki*ll three people less than a year later.
Tina and Karen Bowen, two teenage sisters, held a seance to contact their deceased mother in the winter of 1986. Soon after, the teenagers began to notice strange occurrences in their home. Someone had used the restroom one day. The TV station changed on another day. Items were frequently moved from one location to another or went missing entirely. Milk bottles were left on countertops, and strange messages such as “marry me” and “come find me” were left around the house.
Tina and Karen were convinced there was a ghost in the house. Their father, Frank, dismissed their claims, blaming them on overactive imaginations for the strange happenings in the house. He even suspected the girls were playing pranks on each other.
To Frank’s surprise, the ‘ghost’ was discovered hiding in a small wardrobe: 17-year-old Daniel LaPlante. Daniel was dressed as a ninja, with white face paint covering his face. In one hand, he held a wrench, and in the other, a hatchet.
Daniel escorted the Bowens into a bedroom and then vanished. Tina crept out the window and ran to a neighbor’s house for assistance. Police responded to the call but found no one in or around the house.
Frank noticed Daniel staring out a bedroom window as he approached the home at 93 Lawrence Street two days later. He called the cops, who discovered Daniel in a small enclosed crawlspace in the bathroom. Daniel was arrested and spent a year in a juvenile detention center.
Who is Daniel LaPlante?
Daniel LaPlante became obsessed with Tina, 15, after taking her on a date earlier this year. When Tina told her classmates about her date, some of them informed her that Daniel was facing rape charges. Tina informed her father, who forbade her from ever seeing him again.
Daniel was unable to accept rejection.
He entered the Bowen house and took over their crawlspace. By the time police apprehended him, he had been living in the crawlspace for several weeks.
Daniel, who was born in May 1970, began a life of crime in his early teens after experiencing extreme psychological abuse from his father and se*xual abuse from the psychologist who promised to help him. He was a petty criminal in the Townsend, MA, area, most notably as a burglar who robbed homes of valuables.
Kids at school described Daniel as “weird” and “odd” and said he was a loner who spent most of his free time alone.
Daniel LePlante Released; The Gustafsons Mur*dered
Daniel’s mother remortgaged the family home in October 1987 to secure $10,000 in bail for her son. He was quickly back to his criminal ways. In October, he stole two.22 caliber firearms, and in November, he robbed his next-door neighbors, the Gustafson family, which included pregnant teacher Priscilla, her husband Andrew, and their two children, William and Abigail.
Daniel returned to the Gustafson house less than three weeks later, this time with far more sinister plans.
Daniel broke into the empty Gustafson’s home on the evening of December 1, 1987, armed with one of the stolen.22 rifles. He later claimed that he did not expect Priscilla to return home, but he did not flee when he saw her car pull into the driveway. Instead, he confronted Priscilla at the door, pointing a gun in her direction.
Priscilla and her son were ordered into a bedroom by Daniel. He confined William to a closet, bound Priscilla to her bed, gagged her with a dirty sock, and raped her. He then shot her in the head twice.
Daniel heard the front door of the house open after drowning William in the bathtub. Abigail, the Gustafson’s daughter, was returning home from school. He enticed Abigail into the bathroom, where he drowned her.
Daniel returned home after ki*lling three people and attended his niece’s birthday party.
Andrew Gustafson discovered his wife face down on their bed. He fled the house and called the cops. He did not look for his children because he was “afraid I would find them dea*d.”
Evidence Led Police to Daniel LaPlante
Daniel was quickly linked to the mu*rders by police. They discovered his shirt and gloves in the woods behind the Gustafson house. The scent of the shirt was tracked by K9 dogs to within four feet of the LaPlante residence.
Laplante was taken in for questioning, but police did not have enough evidence to make an arrest. After the interrogation, police obtained an arrest warrant for LaPlante the next day. LaPlante was gone by the time officers returned to his house.
On December 3, 1987, Daniel was discovered hiding inside a dumpster. Before police apprehended him, he had committed several more burglaries in the Pepperell area.
In 1988, Daniel was convicted of three counts of mur*der and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. He will be eligible for parole in 2032 after serving 45 years of his sentence.