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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Both life, investigation carry on
May 29, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 As tourists packed into Coeur d’Alene on Saturday, a half-empty Wolf Lodge Campground was enjoying a hint of calm after an unthinkable storm. The family campground, eight miles east of …
New protocol slowed Amber Alert
May 28, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 About two months ago, Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson wrote a letter to Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne complaining about the statewide Amber Alert system. Watson’s hunch that the statewide system …
Search gains new hope
May 27, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Investigators have renewed hope that two children missing from the scene of a triple homicide last week could still be alive, authorities said, after getting initial DNA results from the …
Families share fond memories
At mother and son’s funeral, pastor urges focus on life
May 26, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 A local pastor told more than 500 people gathered Wednesday to honor the lives of Brenda Groene and her 13-year-old son that they should not play detective and try to …
150 pray for victims, children
May 25, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 Relatives and community members gathered in a field in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday night to pray for three people who were recently killed near Wolf Lodge Bay and to plead …
Officials ask public to watch out for clues
May 25, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 Authorities are asking campers and hikers venturing into the forests of North Idaho this Memorial Day weekend to be on the lookout for anything that might help them solve last …
More agents join murder case
May 24, 2005 in Idaho on Page B1 Thirty more investigators from the FBI are joining the biggest criminal investigation in Kootenai County history, as a team that sometimes numbers in the hundreds assists with the search for …
Few new clues in triple homicide
May 23, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Kootenai County investigators received 19 tips after a Saturday night “America’s Most Wanted” TV segment on the search for two North Idaho children last seen at their home near Lake …
Search near children’s home ends
May 21, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Investigators gave up the search in the woods near Wolf Lodge Bay on Friday for two children missing since three bloody homicides earlier this week. Now they’re sifting through a …
Victims in CdA homicide were bludgeoned
May 20, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Investigators still had no explanation Thursday for why three people were murdered earlier this week in a house near Lake Coeur d’Alene or who may have done it, but the …
Son says family loving, caring
Delays slow spread of Amber Alert
Officers find 3 dead; homicide suspected
May 17, 2005 in Idaho on Page A1 Kootenai County sheriffs deputies are investigating an apparent homicide involving three victims at a house east of here. With investigators just beginning their work, little information was available Monday night.