Daniel LaPlante Terrorized A Family While Living In The Walls Of Their House

In the winter. of 1986, a teenage boy named Daniel LaPlante terrorized a family in a small Massachusetts town. The Bowens experienced seemingly ghost-like activity for days before LaPlante - who had been hiding in their walls for weeks - confronted them in their home.

Despite terrorizing the family and threatening to kill them, LaPlante received a lenient sentence due to his age. Tragically, his crimes escalated in December 1987 - just weeks after being released from juvenile detention - when he killed a mother and her two young children.

Daniel LaPlante's story sounds like an urban legend, and while sorting out the facts can be tricky, this list breaks down the story of a killer who received three consecutive life sentences for his crimes.

  • In The Winter Of 1986, The Bowen Family Began Hearing Strange Noises In Their Home

    In December 1986, teenager Tina Bowen and her sister Karen began noticing strange occurrences in their Pepperell, MA, home. They would often return home from school to find furniture moved, food missing, and the TV turned on. Sometimes, Tina would leave her room and return to discover items moved or vanished.

    Tina and her sister began wondering if their house was haunted, and some sources claim they held a séance to contact their deceased mother, though this has not been confirmed.

    Tina and her sister expressed their concerns to their father, Frank Bowen, but he assumed his daughters’ imaginations were running wild or they were simply making things up.

  • A Few Days Later, The Bowens Found A Boy Named Daniel LaPlante Hiding In Their Walls

    Although the Bowen home wasn’t haunted, it was occupied by an unwelcome guest. On December 8, 1986, the Bowens, along with a friend of Tina and Karen, came face to face with a terrifying home intruder. Daniel “Danny” LaPlante had been hiding in the walls of the Bowens' large Colonial-style home for days and was responsible for the moved and missing items.

    The 16-year-old LaPlante emerged from his still-unknown hiding spot wearing face paint and spiked hair, and wielding both a wrench and a hatchet that Frank Bowen kept in his bedroom for protection. LaPlante then began giving the family orders.

  • LaPlante Held The Family Hostage, But Tina Bowen Escaped

    LaPlante forced the Bowens and their friend into a bedroom and told them to stay put. Once he left, Tina Bowen climbed out the window and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911. When police arrived at the home, they found no sign of LaPlante and assumed he fled.

    Although Tina Bowen had previously met LaPlante, she did not recognize him on December 8.

    The Bowens described him as being in his 20s and standing over six feet tall, although LaPlante was actually 16 and only stood at about 5’-8”. Investigators believed the shock of the situation and LaPlante’s appearance made him seem both older and taller.

  • Frank Bowen Returned To His Home Two Days Later And Spotted LaPlante In The Window

    Frank Bowen returned to his home at 93 Lawrence Street on December 10 to retrieve some of his family’s personal items. As he drove up to the home, he could see LaPlante staring out of a bedroom window.

    Bowen immediately contacted police, who were initially skeptical that someone was hiding in the Bowens' home; however, that changed when an officer entered the house. He later stated, “When I opened the door, on the right-hand wall, I saw a knife sticking out of the wall. And I see it's through a picture - a family picture - written on it in magic marker, 'I'M STILL HERE. COME FIND ME.’”

    Another note reportedly read, “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU ALL.”

    Police eventually found LaPlante hiding in a small, triangular wall cavity in the bathroom containing plumbing. Officers noted LaPlante didn't seem fearful of them, but they quickly took him into custody.

  • LaPlante's Childhood Was Reportedly Traumatic

    Daniel LaPlante was born in 1970 and grew up in a home at 22 Elm Street in Townsend, MA. LaPlante reported enduring multiple forms of abuse from his father and having difficulty making friends at school.

    When LaPlante was sent to a psychiatrist for treatment, the psychiatrist also reportedly abused the young boy. LaPlante eventually turned to petty theft, but much of his juvenile criminal record remains unknown. He did apparently enjoy breaking into houses, which culminated in the events at the Bowens' home.

    LaPlante's peers in school referred to him as "creepy" and “weird.”

  • LaPlante Murdered A Different Family After His Release

    On December 1, 1987, Andrew Gustafson came home to find his pregnant wife and two young children murdered. Priscilla Gustafson, 33, had been sexually assaulted and shot twice, while Abigail, 7, and William, 5, had been drowned in the home's upstairs and downstairs bathtubs.

    Police quickly suspected LaPlante, who was recently released from juvenile detention, and found evidence of the crimes at LaPlante's home.

    In 1988, LaPlante was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the murders of Priscilla, Abigail, and William Gustafson. At LaPlante's sentencing, Judge Robert A. Barton told him, "There are some who would say that you should receive the same sentence that you imposed on the Gustafson family - that is death by ligature or hanging."

    The judge noted that since there was no death penalty in Massachusetts, the life sentences were the harshest punishment he could impose.