Just days before Shasta Groene was found, the lead detective in the case began working with a psychic investigator hired by the girl’s father.
Shasta was found before tips that psychic Noreen Renier provided could be used, but Renier said she’s confident that she had “nailed it” and that she saw where Joseph Duncan had been holding the Groene children hostage.
By the time of the June 30 session with Renier, Shasta and her brother, Dylan, had been missing for more than a month. Hundreds of tips and possible sightings had been reported, but detectives had few leads.
“I was willing to try just about anything in an effort to rescue those two kids,” said Kootenai County Sheriff’s Detective Brad Maskell. “This case was the first where I actually participated in a (psychic) session. It was interesting. It was obviously unusual.”
Because of Duncan’s upcoming trial, scheduled to begin in April, Maskell said he couldn’t discuss specifics of the session. Though many things Renier told him during the session were very general and could be interpreted several ways, Maskell said some of the information was very similar to what detectives learned after Duncan’s arrest in the murder and kidnapping case.
Though Renier didn’t want to discuss particulars of the Groene case, she did say that she described a wooded area to Maskell.
“I think I did see where (Duncan) had them,” Renier said.
Authorities said Duncan kept Dylan and Shasta Groene at remote campsites in Western Montana. Though he allegedly killed Dylan, Duncan returned to Coeur d’Alene with Shasta on July 2 where he was arrested at a restaurant.
The session was conducted over the phone – with hundreds of miles separating Maskell and Renier, who lives on the East Coast. Renier charges $1,000 per case.
Distance, Renier said, is no object.
She’s a psychometrist. Basically, Renier said, she touches an object belonging to a missing person or a murder victim and gets an impression from that object. She said she can see, hear and feel the actions or experiences of a victim or murderer.
In the Groene case, Renier said she was mailed toys belonging to both children. Because the toys were from their father’s home, and not the Wolf Lodge home where the children’s mother, older brother and mother’s boyfriend were killed, Renier said she was limited in seeing what had taken place at that murder scene.
Certain objects are more easily read, she said. In a homicide case, that might be something off the victim’s body, like a watch or a shoe, she said.
“If they have a murder weapon, that’s perfect,” she said.
In a missing person’s case, Renier said, she asks for something that nobody other than the victim would use, like a toothbrush or hairbrush.
Renier has worked on more than 450 cases in her 30-year career as a psychic detective. She said it’s important to note that psychics don’t solve cases – they just help police.
Renier has been featured on Court TV’s “Psychic Detectives” show, but it’s unclear how Steve Groene learned of Renier. She doesn’t solicit families, she said, and only works with detectives.
Steve Groene couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Maskell and Coeur d’Alene FBI Supervisor Donald Robinson said investigators received many tips from psychics during the search for the missing kids. Those tips were evaluated using the same criteria investigators use for any other lead, Robinson said.
“A lot of these psychic tips and leads are fairly ambiguous,” Robinson said. “Like, ‘I see a yellow house on a street with trees.’ “
Robinson said investigators are more likely to seriously consider a tip that’s specific and that they can take action on – whether it comes from a psychic or elsewhere.