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.
By content type
Latest updates in this topic
Duncan excluded in missing girl case
July 21, 2005 in Region on Page B2 CHISHOLM, Minn. – Investigators have ruled out convicted sex offender Joseph E. Duncan III as a suspect in the disappearance more than two years ago of a 5-year-old Chisholm girl, …
Duncan’s prison file reveals skilled liar, sexual deviant
July 19, 2005 in City on Page A1 OLYMPIA – Shortly after Joseph Edward Duncan III’s initial release from prison, his therapist and parole officer clashed over the appropriateness of the sex life he adopted as part of …
Duncan tried to get child porn in prison
July 19, 2005 in City on Page A1 OLYMPIA – State prison records released Monday show that Joseph Edward Duncan III, as a prison inmate in Walla Walla, protested when officials there prevented him from receiving a publication …
Bikers rally around Shasta
July 18, 2005 in City on Page A1 It was a mechanized thunderstorm that lasted more than six hours on the Idaho-Washington border. Bikers, saddled on more than 500 Harley-Davidsons, converged Sunday at a small bar in Stateline …
Tough task for Duncan defense
July 18, 2005 in Idaho on Page A6 John Adams and Lynn Nelson appear to have a thankless job. The two criminal defense attorneys are representing Joseph E. Duncan III, the 42-year-old sex offender who’s facing multiple murder …
Diverse crowd mourns Dylan
Duncan galvanizes a city on death penalty
July 17, 2005 in City on Page A1 When the Rev. Patrick W. Bell stands before his congregation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church today, he will preach that part of God’s plan involves the bad and the good …
Duncan bloggers logging big hours
July 16, 2005 in City on Page A1 Bloggers from across the nation, often with no professional investigative training, are digging into details of Joseph E. Duncan III’s history, hoping their undercover work will make an impact on …
Purchase of goggles detailed
July 16, 2005 in Idaho on Page A8 FARGO, N.D. – Joseph Duncan bought night-vision goggles here two days before renting a car in the Minneapolis area and vanishing, police documents show. Duncan, a convicted sex offender whose …
Service for Dylan today
Dylan Groene’s funeral set for day boy would have turned 10
July 15, 2005 in Idaho on Page A3 A public memorial service for Dylan James Groene, 9, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls. Dylan’s death is still the subject of a …
Duncan hears his charges
July 14, 2005 in City on Page A1 Joseph E. Duncan III sat mute throughout his first court appearance on three first-degree murder and three first-degree kidnapping charges Wednesday. He was mostly stone-faced during the short proceeding, except …
Fargo man helped Duncan make bail
July 13, 2005 in City on Page A4 FARGO, N.D. – A businessman wrote registered sex offender Joseph Duncan a $15,000 personal check to help Duncan make bail after he was charged with child molestation in Minnesota, police …
Family’s top concern shielding Shasta
July 13, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Shasta Groene spent Tuesday afternoon much like any other kid. “She’s running through the sprinklers and watching cartoons,” said her grandmother, Darlene Torres. “She’s just playing and being a kid. …
Deputy: Duncan stalked family
July 13, 2005 in City on Page A1 Joseph E. Duncan III studied the household of Brenda Groene and Mark McKenzie for two or three days before he killed them and Groene’s 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, with a …
Three murder charges await kidnap suspect
July 12, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 The Kootenai County prosecutor plans to file three counts of first-degree murder charges today against Joseph Edward Duncan III in the bludgeoning deaths of Brenda Groene, Slade Groene and Mark …
Remains are Dylan’s
July 11, 2005 in City on Page A1 The FBI has identified the human remains found in a rugged area of Western Montana as those of Dylan Groene, the 9-year-old North Idaho boy who had been missing since …
Fargo neighbors saw no warning
$15,000 bail haunts Minnesota town
July 10, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Attorney Stuart Kitzmann made a point of dropping by his town’s courthouse early April 5 to get a look at the stranger accused of molesting two …
Records show discussion of Duncan’s bail
July 10, 2005 in Idaho on Page A13 On April 5, 2005, Joseph E. Duncan III appeared in Minnesota District Court in Detroit Lakes, Minn., where he pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of criminal sexual assault. …