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Idaho

No clues offered by holiday campers

Tue., May 31, 2005, midnight

Investigators were hoping that thousands of residents flocking to the woods of North Idaho for the Memorial Day holiday would uncover something helpful in the search for two children after a triple homicide on May 16.

“We didn’t get a single call,” Kootenai County Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Ben Wolfinger said.

In the meantime, FBI agents continued to sift through 40 tons of garbage looking for clues in the incident near Wolf Lodge Bay.

Brenda Groene, 40; her 37-year-old boyfriend, Mark McKenzie; and her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, were bound and bludgeoned to death.

Still missing are 8-year-old Shasta Groene and her brother, 9-year-old Dylan “D.J.” Groene.

Last week, the sheriff’s department made a public plea for campers to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

Investigators expected any discoveries to come early in the holiday weekend when residents first arrived at campsites, Wolfinger said.

It’s “encouraging in a way,” Wolfinger said. “There were no calls of possibly finding any bodies. But we didn’t get that clue either.”

About 70 federal, state and county investigators continue searching in the hope that Shasta and D.J. are alive somewhere.

Tests on blood from the crime scene last week revealed that none of the blood splatters came from Shasta or D.J.

Wolfinger also praised the FBI for making its crime lab available. So far, investigators have sent a U-Haul truck full of evidence to be tested.

Wolfinger said he doesn’t know what agents have found in the landfill, located near Rockford Bay.

“I know it’s been disgusting,” Wolfinger said, referring to the conditions. “A lot of dead pets, I understand.”

Agents are expected to continue searching for clues this week, he said.

“The heat has just been a killer for them,” Wolfinger said. “They literally have to pull trash bales apart and go through every piece.”

On Saturday night, “America’s Most Wanted” aired a second segment on the crime and asked for tips on Shasta and D.J.

“We only received 12 calls,” Wolfinger said. All the tips had been checked and none was helpful, he said.

Monday marked two weeks since the triple homicide was discovered.

Wolfinger said the investigation has begun to weigh on some detectives, who are typically working 12 to 14 hours before supervisors push them out the door.

“They are a little frustrated,” Wolfinger said. “They would have loved to have had it solved two weeks ago.”



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