Joseph Edward Duncan III is the murderer and kidnapper who attacked a Wolf Lodge Bay family in May 2005.
Kootenai County deputies discovered three dead on May 16, 2005. Brenda Groene, 40; her fiance Mark McKenzie, 37; and her son, Slade Groene, 13, were bludgeoned to death. An Amber Alert was issued the next day for Brenda Groene’s two youngest children, 9-year-old Dylan Groene and 8-year-old Shasta Groene.
The murders and children’s disappearance launched the biggest investigative effort in Kootenai County’s history, at one point involving more than 100 FBI personnel and more than 80 investigators from several other agencies.
Shortly before 2 a.m. on July 2, Shasta was recognized by workers and patrons at the Denny’s in Coeur d’Alene, and her kidnapper, Duncan, was arrested without incident.
Duncan, 42 at the time, was a federal fugitive and a Tacoma native who had spent much of his adult life in Washington state prisons for sex crimes against children. He was on the run from a child molestation charge in Minnesota when he drove past the Groene home on Interstate 90 east of Coeur d’Alene and spotted Shasta and Dylan playing outside.
Over the July 4 weekend, investigators found Dylan Groene’s remains at a campsite near St. Regis, Mont.
On Oct. 16, 2005, Duncan pleaded guilty to three counts of kidnapping and three counts of murder in the deaths of Brenda Groene, Mark McKenzie and Slade Groene. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the kidnappings. The sentences for the murders were undecided, pending federal prosecution.
More than two years later, after numerous legal delays and psychiatric evaluations, Duncan acted as his own lawyer as he pleaded guilty to 10 federal counts, including the kidnapping of the two children and Dylan’s murder, on Dec. 3, 2007.
On Aug. 27, 2008, a federal jury sentenced Duncan to death. The decision ended the state’s earlier case, with a judge imposing three more life sentences for those murders. Later, Duncan was given three more life sentences, for a total of nine, for his federal crimes.
Duncan pleaded guilty in the death of Anthony Martinez, a 10-year-old California boy, adding his 10th life sentence on March 15, 2011. Duncan has also been linked to the 1996 slayings of two young half-sisters in Seattle.
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Sex offenders without addresses throw notification system for a loop
Sept. 6, 2005 in City on Page A1 OLYMPIA – Washington’s long-standing policy of notifying neighbors when a high-risk sex offender moves in has spawned a growing number of homeless sex offenders who are much harder to track, …
Duncan silent on charges
Aug. 24, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Suspected serial killer Joseph E. Duncan III didn’t utter a word Tuesday, even as a judge informed him he could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering a North …
Duncan will enter plea today
Aug. 23, 2005 in Idaho on Page B3 COEUR d’ALENE – With the number of child slayings in which he is considered a suspect increased to six, registered sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III will enter a plea …
Schools to check visitors against sex offender lists
Aug. 18, 2005 in City on Page B2 Coeur d’Alene’s 10 elementary schools will begin checking visitors and volunteers against sex offender registries from 42 states beginning this fall. The Coeur d’Alene School Board on Monday approved the …
Police add patrols as students arrive
Aug. 18, 2005 in City on Page B3 College students better mind their driving this weekend. The Washington State Patrol is conducting emphasis patrols Friday through Sunday in anticipation of students heading to Washington State University and the …
Duncan lawyer stops cop interviews
Aug. 12, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Any new jailhouse revelations are unlikely to come from Joseph E. Duncan III until after his trial on murder and kidnapping charges. Shortly after Duncan was arrested July 1 in …
Duncan had details on slain Seattle girls
Aug. 11, 2005 in City on Page B1 Within days of his arrest last month, North Idaho multiple-murder suspect Joseph Edward Duncan III implicated himself in the 1996 deaths of two Seattle girls during a conversation with FBI …
New judge picked for Duncan case
Aug. 10, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 First District Judge Fred Gibler has been assigned to Kootenai County’s biggest criminal case after fellow Judge John Mitchell was disqualified by the Kootenai County prosecutor. The prosecutor filed a …
Duncan encrypted data on computer
Aug. 9, 2005 in City on Page B1 Three days before police say he murdered an Idaho family, Joseph Duncan bragged online about an encrypted, tell-all journal that wouldn’t be broken into for decades. He figured technology would …
Duncan waives preliminary hearing
Aug. 6, 2005 in Idaho on Page B2 Joseph Edward Duncan III, who is accused of kidnapping and murdering members of a Coeur d’Alene-area family in May, waived his preliminary hearing Friday. Duncan will face an arraignment next, …
Duncan may have more victims
Aug. 5, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Investigators are now reviewing unsolved missing children cases nationwide for possible links to kidnapping and murder suspect Joseph Edward Duncan III. Typically, the arrest of a violent sexual predator would …
Probation records reveal Duncan’s travels
Aug. 4, 2005 in City on Page A7 After being paroled in 1994, sex offender Joseph Duncan traveled throughout the Seattle area and to several states. Here, based on state probation records, are some of Duncan’s movements: “Sept. …
Washington looks to toughen sex-offense laws
Aug. 2, 2005 in City on Page A1 OLYMPIA – Frustrated by a sex offender’s alleged attack and slaying of the Groene family in North Idaho, Washington state legislators are considering tougher laws. Some are calling for a …
Sheriff rewards Shasta’s rescuers
July 29, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 Two Denny’s employees were rewarded Thursday for their role in the rescue of Shasta Groene earlier this month, but her father thinks another rescuer was shortchanged and is considering giving …
KMC workers disciplined for viewing records
July 28, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 Four workers at Kootenai Medical Center were disciplined recently for violating Shasta Groene’s privacy, after they viewed her medical records even though they weren’t part of her medical team. The …
Stupidity, ego, may explain why suspects stayed in region
July 28, 2005 in Idaho on Page A7 John Tuggle walked into a convenience store on Wednesday, past his own wanted poster hanging on the door, to ask a clerk behind the counter about packaged hotdogs. After Tuggle …
Groene case inspiring adults to discuss abuse with children
July 25, 2005 in Idaho on Page A6 The recent murder and kidnapping case in Coeur d’Alene’s back yard depressed children’s advocate Tinka Schaffer, but she also saw an opportunity in the accompanying publicity to help teach children …
Worst molesters unsupervised
July 24, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 BOISE – Idaho’s sex offender law has a major gap – it methodically identifies the worst, most violent offenders who are most likely to reoffend, but then allows them to …
Region struggles to cope with crimes
Minnesota judge has tough reputation
July 22, 2005 in Region on Page B1 DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – A judge who’s under fire for allowing sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III to go free on bail is regarded locally as so tough that defendants …