Girls report 'ghost' living in their home – but the truth is far more chilling

Girls report 'ghost' living in their home – but the truth is far more chilling

Daniel LaPlante spent months hiding in the Massachussets home of the Bowen family

(Police mugshot/iStock)

In 1986, two sisters began to notice strange things happening in their house in the town of Townsend, Massachusetts.

Items were rearranged, milk was mysteriously consumed, and bone-chilling messages like “marry me” and “I’m in your room. Come and find me,” were allegedly scrawled on the wall in mayonnaise and ketchup.

The girls, Tina and Karen Bowen, told their father Frank about the creepy goings-on, which they attributed to a ghost, but he dismissed them as pranks played by one daughter on the other.

That was until December 8 of that year, when the girls returned home to find someone had used their toilet.

Frank then searched the house, eventually discovering Tina’s 16-year-old schoolmate Daniel LaPlante in a wardrobe.

Wearing a Native American-style jacket, with his face painted, the teenager brandished a wrench and a hatchet at the family and ordered them into a bedroom, All That’s Interesting (ATI) reports.

He then locked them in but, luckily, Tina escaped through a window and ran to a neighbour’s house to call 911.

The police arrived but found no trace of LaPlante, leaving them to conclude that he had escaped.

However, two days later, Frank returned home to pick up some of his family’s belongings and, as he approached the house, he spotted LaPlante staring out of a bedroom window, Morbid Knowledge reports.

When Frank entered the building, he found a message written on one of the family photos, saying: “I'M STILL HERE. COME FIND ME”.

Eventually, police discovered LaPlante hiding within a cramped triangular wall cavity in the cellar of the house, in which he had clearly been living for weeks or even months.

A police sketch of LaPlante's cramped hiding place(Steve Bezanson, Tom Lane)

It turns out that the 16-year-old had become obsessed with Tina, whom he had taken on a date some time earlier.

However, fellow students told her that the troubled boy was facing rape charges and so that put an end to the relationship, or so she thought.

After gaining access to the Bowen home using a small crawl space, LaPlante began his psychological torment of the family.

At first, he had simply wanted to watch Tina. But then, when he saw her sister and her trying to contact their mother – who had recently died of cancer – using a ouija board, he began impersonating a ghost, according to ATI.

“He haunted his victims for almost a year, constantly upped his game as the months went by and even watched them from behind the walls during their most intimate moments,” British author Joe Turner, who wrote a book about LaPlante titled ‘The Boy in the Walls’ told theDaily Star back in 2022.

“When Danny first started living in their home, he was basically using it as a hiding place to watch Tina,” Turner continued.

“But over time, he began to relish the fact he could terrify this family. His actions got more bizarre as time went on, and at one point they discovered a bathtub full of urine and a trail of pennies scattered over the floor.”

Upon his arrest at the Bowen home, LaPlante was swiftly sent to a juvenile detention centre.

However, he stayed there less than a year because in October 1987, his mother remortgaged her house to pay his $10,000 bail.

Two months later, he would commit his worst crime yet.

A handcuffed LaPlante on 4 December, 1987, after he pleaded innocent to the Gustafson murders (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

While awaiting trial, LaPlante moved home and carried out a burgling spree in the local area.

On 16 November 1987, LaPlante targeted the home of the Gustafson family, which included pregnant nursery school teacher Priscilla Gustafson, 33, her husband Andrew, and their two children: William, five, and Abigail, seven.

Some two weeks later, on 1 December, LaPlante returned to the Guftafson home armed with a .22 firearm, ATI reports.

The then 17-year-old claimed he hadn’t expected anyone to be home, but when he encountered Priscilla, he raped and shot her twice in the head.

He then took William, whom he had shut in a cupboard, to the bathroom and drowned him.

Then he lured Abigail, who had just returned home from school, into another bathroom and drowned her as well.

Andrew found Priscilla’s body when he returned home from work that evening, telling the Los Angeles Times in 1990: "I was too afraid of going to look for my children because I was afraid I’d find them dead... It was so shocking and unbelievable. I screamed. I wailed.”

Priscilla Gustafson with her children William and Abigail(National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers)

According to court documents, LaPlante was easily implicated in the unimaginable crimes thanks to forensic evidence.

Police even found the shirt and gloves he wore to murder the children in the woods behind the Gustafson house, still wet.

LaPlante was tried for the Gustafson murders in October 1988 and subsequently convicted on three life sentences.

Chillingly, that wasn’t the end to his story. LaPlante appealed for a reduced sentence in 2017, but the judge found that he was not remorseful for his crimes. Instead, the judge affirmed LaPlante’s sentence of three consecutive terms of life imprisonment.

LaPlante, who is now 53, must wait another seven years before he is eligible for a parole hearing.

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