Brother says Duncan was planning to turn self in
Convicted sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III was trying to return 8-year-old abduction victim Shasta Groene when he was captured with the girl in a restaurant, Duncan’s brother told a newspaper.
In a story in Friday’s edition of the Coeur d’Alene Press, Bruce Duncan said his brother was planning to turn himself in to authorities when he and Shasta entered a Denny’s restaurant in the early morning hours of July 2.
That information came in one of several letters he has received from Joseph Duncan, Bruce Duncan told the newspaper in the first comments from a Duncan family member since the case broke.
“I knew from day one he didn’t get caught by accident,” said Bruce Duncan, who lives in the Tacoma area. “He was in another state. He could have gone 500 different directions. Yet, he took (Shasta) back.”
Joseph Duncan faces three counts of first-degree murder in the May slayings of Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son Slade, and her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie. Authorities contend Duncan killed the three in their home so he could kidnap Shasta and Dylan Groene, 9, for sex.
Authorities contend Duncan held the children captive for seven weeks while he sexually abused them, and that he eventually killed Dylan.
Bruce Duncan, 40, said that even though his brother is a Level 3 sex offender who spent most of his adult life in prison, he is not a monster.
“He’s a human being and he does have feelings,” Bruce Duncan said. “But he has this problem, apparently, that he does not value life.”
“I have no pity for my brother for what he did,” Bruce Duncan added. “I feel sorry for that family. That family – he destroyed it.”
He said it is appropriate that Duncan faces the death penalty for his crimes.
“If he’s convicted and it’s cut and dry, there’s no way around it and there’s no question about it,” he said. “He may be my brother, but there is no excuse. If somebody were to do something like that to me or my family members, I’d want to see him dead. The law is the law. We all live under it.”
Joseph Duncan, 42, of Fargo, N.D., has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a Jan. 17 trial on charges he bound and bludgeoned the three to death on May 16 at their home near Coeur d’Alene.
Federal prosecutors have said they will charge Duncan later with kidnapping the two children and killing Dylan, whose remains were found at a remote Montana campsite.
Bruce Duncan said he and his brother were normal children of an Army family while growing up.
“We moved every year or two,” he said. “We traveled quite a bit, until dad retired in Tacoma.
“We went to school, we went to church, we were members of the Boy Scouts,” he added. “We were typical teenagers.”
After his parents divorced when he was 16, Joseph Duncan was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint and sent to prison.
Joseph Duncan told prison therapists that he suffered incest and other abuse at home, and had molested numerous children before he was caught. Bruce Duncan disputes that, saying the stories were fabrications.
“I grew up in that household,” Bruce Duncan said. “I was not abused and I never saw any abuse going on.
“Of all the allegations from the childhood, I’d say 99 percent of them are false,” he said.
Bruce Duncan said only he and their mother, Lillian, have been in contact with Joseph Duncan since his arrest.
“I’d like to sit down with him and talk to him without the FBI listening in, because I’m sure he would tell me more than he is going to tell anybody else,” Bruce Duncan said. “Needless to say, anything I’d find out, I would turn over to the authorities.
“If he’s going to tell anybody, he’s going to tell me,” he said.
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