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Daniel LaPlante Lived In The Walls Before Committing His Crimes

Spoilers for 2016's The Boy

William Brent Bell's less-than-stellar film The Boy—apart from the porcelain prep boy doll, Brahms—is probably best known for its plot twist that sends the story from a banal supernatural haunting to entertaining psychological horror.

The surprise is, after a significant portion into the film, the doll that the film's protagonist has been hired to babysit by a wealthy family that is grieving the loss of their son, Brahms, is actually just a doll. There's nothing special about it. In fact, the strange occurrences, spooks, and scares that happen in the film are actually being coordinated by the real Brahms, who never died and has been living inside the walls of the family's Victorian-era mansion for years.

While it might sound outlandish or even comical, it's good to remember that the truth can be stranger than fiction: Ed Gein had his fascination with body parts; Harold Shipman had his systematic use of lethal injections; Daniel LaPlante lived inside a crawlspace as he tormented two young sisters who were grieving their mother.

The Boy

Not much concrete evidence is known about Daniel LaPlante's early life. Born May 15, 1970 in Townsend, Massachusetts, the majority of the young boy's life was filled with abuse. 

Details are scarce, as sensitive information had been kept private due to LaPlante's young age. However, the consensus is that his father was the most frequent administrator for this abuse, much of which was sexual in nature. But reports suggest that other adults in his life also inflicted abuse upon the boy as well.

School life was also rough for Daniel. He was diagnosed with dyslexia, which no doubt affected his ability to perform academically, but he also struggled socially with kids his age. At North Middlesex High, 'Danny' was an outcast. The most popular description of him at this time by his classmates was "creepy and weird". 

This rejection from his classmates was likely in response to Daniel's strange behavior. He had poor hygiene and had a general apathy towards his appearance and his success in school. Because of this, staff at North Middlesex High referred him for a psychiatric examination.

Upon the referral, Daniel began to see a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with hyperactivity disorder (now known as ADHD). Unfortunately, the psychiatrists began to sexually abuse Daniel. While the boy's life could've taken a different direction, it was at this stage that his pain began to truly shape the person he would become.

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Daniel's Obsessive Behaviour

Perhaps from a lack of real emotional connection to people his own age, or perhaps a result from a lifetime of abuse by those meant to look after him, Daniel developed an obsession for two sisters, Annie and Jessica Andrews

LaPlante likely learned the identity of the girls through his petty thefts. By 1986, at 16-years-old, he had already made a habit of breaking into people's homes in order to rob them. 

Not satisfied, Daniel began to leave evidence of his robbery in a more overt fashion. Sometimes he would even move objects to confuse homeowners, indulging in a psychological pleasure by toying with them.

Regardless, LaPlante struck up a friendship between the two sisters. Having learned their number, he would converse with them over the telephone. In a case of vintage catfishing, LaPlante gave the impression to the girls, Annie in particular, that he was good-looking and from an affluent family that lived in the local area.

Annie, who was the same age as Daniel, clearly took a liking to the voice on the telephone. And, having spoken back and forth for some time, they agreed to go on a date. Obviously, seeing that the boy whom she had spoken to over the phone was nothing like she had pictured, Annie was disappointed.

Her disappointment turned to discomfort as Daniel reportedly asked many questions about how Annie's mother had recently died from cancer. He apparently directed uncomfortable amount of attention to her mother's suffering, which led Annie to distance herself from Daniel. 

A Real-Life Horror Story

Unsplash | Huseyin Akuzum

After distancing herself from Daniel, Annie and her sister Jessica went back to their lives. One day, perhaps while in the throes of grief, the two sisters suggested that they try to contact their mother from beyond the grave. They wanted to conduct a séance. The two sisters did, and it likely brought them some relief or at least a distraction.

That night, the girls heard tapping. Small, rhythmic tapping, like that of a person. There's no doubt the girls believed it to be their mother. But their excitement was short-lived. The sound of the tapping became sinister. It followed the girls constantly when they were alone, and never seemed to occur when their father was in earshot. Soon, the tapping started to affect the girls' sleep.

Eventually, objects started to move around the house. The girls plead with their father, Brian, but he took no notice of what they had to say, perhaps through a paternal instinct that his girls were simply grieving for their mother.

But things soon escalated further. One day the girls heard that familiar tapping sound but noticed that the source seemed to be coming from the basement. In the cellar, the girls found something terrifying: a message, that appeared to be written in blood, that read:

 “I’m in your room. Come and find me.”

 “I’m in your room. Come and find me.”

The girls fled from the house to a neighbor's home, terrified of what lurked inside their house.

The Boy In The Walls

But the girls' terror did not stop there. Weeks passed after the message in the basement without incident, but eventually, it began yet again.

The tapping came from Annie's room now. Another message was emblazoned across one of the walls: 

“I’m back. Find me if you can.”

“I’m back. Find me if you can.”

The girls fled the home once again. Brian returned home after a phone call from his neighbor to find the message written on Annie's wall. But he found another message that the girls hadn't seen—one that had been written after the girls had fled. It said:

 "Marry Me!”.

 "Marry Me!”.

While rumors and exaggerated details cloud the truth of the story, it's known that Daniel confronted Brian Andrews, possibly with a hatchet. The boy escaped, and police searched for him.

The police eventually discovered Daniel within the crawlspace of the Andrews' home. He had used it to traverse undetected across the house, allowing him to tap along the walls, as if like a ghost.

Daniel was promptly arrested, but only being 16, he was sent to a juvenile facility. He spent a total of 10 months there between January to October 1987.

The Horror Continues

Disturbingly, this was just the beginning of LaPlante's crimes. Just months after he left custody of the juvenile facility, Daniel stole handguns from a stranger's home and went on to commit his most horrific act yet.

Using one of the stolen weapons, Daniel broke into the home of the Gustafson family, who lived close by.  He raped and murdered Priscilla Gustafson, who was pregnant at the time. He also murdered her two children, William and Abigail by drowning them in separate bathtubs.

Andrew Gustafson was at work at the time and discovered his wife dead upon his return home. After that, the police were called, which led to LaPlante's suspicion, and eventual arrest.

To this day, LaPlante remains in prison. He appears to show little remorse for his crimes, but undeniably his faculties have been affected by the abuse he suffered as a child, as well as mental disorders that have whittled away at his sanity.

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