July 3, 2005 in Idaho

Suspect created Web log

Virginia De Leon Staff writer
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Background and the latest updates

Joseph Edward Duncan III, the man accused of kidnapping 8-year-old Shasta Groene and a registered sex offender, was the apparent author of a blog, or Web journal, that began in January 2004.

Investigators on Saturday said Duncan was the creator of the Web site, www.fifthnail.com, which opposes registration for sex offenders. The blog has a similar name, fifthnail.blogspot.com, and contains links to the Web site.

Many of the blog entries appear to focus on the author’s own sex abuse crimes, his rage over how sex offenders are treated by society — “Criminals are victims, too” — and his desire for some kind of relationship with God.

In his Web site, Duncan explained that the name “fifth nail” refers to a myth that gypsies made five nails for Christ’s execution, but they hid the fifth nail — which was supposed to pierce Jesus’ heart — from the Roman soldiers. “The mission of The Fifth Nail is to help in the fight against official propaganda that supports discrimination against classes of people defined by mistakes they made in the past, or might make in the future.”

He insisted on his Web site that laws governing offenders “in fact create an even more dangerous class of criminals” by “forcing them to feel like outcasts.”

Details from the blog dovetail with Duncan’s life.

On several occasions, the blog author – who refers to himself as “Joe”– complained about how the police in Fargo, N.D., regularly checked up on him because of his sex offender status. He insisted that most sex offenders do not re-offend and that the laws governing these criminals are “an inherent waste of effort.” The only purpose they serve, he said, was to “harass” sex offenders.

The author also posted questions for Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus on the police department’s Crime Watch Web site asking him about the laws governing sex offenders.

“The only cure for crime is Love,” the author later wrote in his blog on Feb. 21, 2005. “Everything else is just more Crime.”

Later that month, he suggested an alternative treatment for sex offenders: “It is more effective to take direct measures to stop people from wanting to hurt people. We should offer free offender counseling and even amnesty for certain types of offenses if the offender agrees to treatment. That would be a very practical and effective way to reduce sex crimes dramatically. I doubt it will ever happen though, because our society loves the excitement that sex offenders bring into our living rooms through the media and we would be lost without someone to point our fingers at.”

Duncan was 16 years old when he stole four handguns and ammunition from a neighbor’s home in Tacoma and, that evening, abducted a 14-year-old boy who had been walking in his neighborhood, according to registry information. Duncan raped the boy at gunpoint, a crime he was convicted of and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In the blog, the author talked about committing a sex crime “when I was very young,” but also described himself as “just a kid acting out confusion over my own abuse.” He insisted that he is not a pedophile and explained how he was sentenced to a sex offender program for adults “where half the men in my ‘treatment group’ sat and fantasized about me.”

The first blog entry appears to have been made on Jan. 4, 2004. It detailed the author’s reasons for writing on the Web: “I’m working on a Web site that I hope will be a voice for oppressed ‘criminals.’ I’m not sticking up for their crimes; I’m sticking up for the human being inside, and trying to get people to see that punishing a scapegoat does only creates more victims, mostly innocent ones.”

While many entries detailed his anger at law enforcement, the author also focused on a lot of everyday happenings in his life: sitting alone at home, baking chicken pot pie, playing with his cats – Rusty and Copper – the dreams he had the night before. He talked about being in a class and having a job, but it wasn’t clear what he did to make a living to pay for the computer equipment and other items that he ordered via UPS.

He also posted the lyrics to a few songs — “Real, Real, Real” by Jesus Jones, REM’s “Losing My Religion” and the Beatles’ “Imagine,” which he called the “greatest song ever written.”

In later entries, the author spent more time discussing God and even quoting the Bible: “I am the way, the truth, the life. …”

On April 24 of this year, he talks about wishing he was dead but that he didn’t know how to kill himself. “I’ve been praying a lot and asking God for help. If you are reading this, and you believe in God, please pray for God to help me defeat my demons.”

On May 11, less than a week before the crimes in North Idaho, the author of the blog appeared to have lost hope: “I have been asking God to help defeat the demons. In fact, last night I was on my knees begging him, crying out loud to him, to help me. He didn’t answer, again.”

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