Topics

Joseph Duncan

Summary

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.

Key people

  • Joseph Duncan

    Joseph Edward Duncan III is the murderer and kidnapper who attacked an Idaho family in May 2005. Duncan was 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. On Dec. 3, 2007, 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 Grone’s murder.

  • Brenda Groene

    Brenda Groene, 40, was found at her home by Kootenai County deputies on May 16, 2005, bludgeoned to death, along with her fiance Mark McKenzie; and her son, 13-year-old Slade Groene. Her 9-year-old son Dylan Groene and 8-year-old daughter Shasta Groene were kidnapped by Joseph Duncan.

  • Mark McKenzie

    Mark McKenzie, 37, was found by Kootenai County deputies May 16, 2005, bludgeoned to death, along with his fiancee, Brenda Groene, 40; and her son, Slade Groene, 13, were bludgeoned to death.

  • Steve Groene

    Steve Groene is the father of Shasta Groene. His sons, Dylan and Slade Groene and his ex-wife, Brenda Groene, were killed in 2005 by Joseph Dundan. Shasta was kidnapped and was found two months later.

Key places

  • Wolf Lodge Bay

Latest updates in this topic


  • Duncan psych exam could swing case

    BOISE – The latest development in the Joseph Duncan sentencing raises a major question: What happens to the case against the confessed killer if psychological evaluations find he’s mentally incompetent? …


  • In brief: Judge delays Duncan case further

    A decision on whether confessed killer Joseph Duncan should die for what he did to two North Idaho children was pushed back Tuesday when a federal judge ordered a second …


  • Duncan’s psychiatric evaluation sealed

    The public has no constitutional right to see the results of a mental evaluation of killer Joseph Duncan, a federal judge in Boise ruled Thursday. Duncan’s right to a fair …


  • Duncan’s exam results should be public, media argue

    The public should be able to know results of the psychological exam that will help decide whether admitted murderer Joseph Duncan is competent to act as his own attorney in …


  • Duncan evaluation puts jury selection on hold

    BOISE – More than two dozen prospective jurors were waiting to be questioned, Joseph Duncan was in court, and attorneys and the judge were assembled. But Tuesday’s jury selection proceedings …


  • Duncan cites his ‘ideology’

    BOISE – Convicted killer Joseph Duncan said Friday that his “ideology” is behind his request to act as his own attorney in his death penalty sentencing hearings for kidnapping, molesting …


  • Duncan wants to act as own lawyer

    BOISE – Joseph Duncan wants to act as his own attorney in his death penalty hearings, his lawyers told the court Wednesday. “He has requested that we recognize his desire …


  • S-R, others file brief to keep trial open

    The public should be able to “observe all matters” considered by a U.S. District Court jury that will decide if confessed killer Joseph Duncan should face the federal death penalty, …


  • Largest jury pool gathers for Duncan proceedings

    BOISE – The largest jury pool ever summoned to federal court in Idaho gathered at a Boise convention center Monday to face a thin, shaggy-haired killer whose fate rests in …


  • Duncan juror phase begins

    BOISE – Three hundred fifty people will gather in Boise’s convention center on Monday to start an extraordinary process: deciding whether Joseph Duncan should die for what he did to …


  • Judge rules against Duncan

    Jurors can consider incriminating statements convicted murderer Joseph Duncan made to FBI agents as they decide whether he should be executed for his crimes, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. …


  • Duncan lawyers seek sentence delay

    BOISE – Attorneys for convicted murderer Joseph Edward Duncan III are asking a federal judge to postpone his sentencing hearing on 10 federal charges until September, and to prevent the …


  • Duncan evidence won’t be suppressed

    BOISE – A federal judge has rejected defense attorneys’ motions to suppress evidence seized from the vehicle Joseph Duncan was driving when he was found with young Shasta Groene, the …


  • Shasta told police of Duncan’s claims

    BOISE – Shasta Groene told authorities that Joseph Duncan, during the weeks he held her captive at a remote Montana campsite, described killing at least three other children – a …


  • Shooting details revealed at Duncan hearing

    BOISE – The night she was rescued from killer Joseph Duncan, young Shasta Groene gave such a vivid description of Duncan’s killing of her brother, Dylan, that it left little …


  • Shasta’s advocate fights delay

    BOISE – The court-appointed advocate for Shasta Groene said in court papers Friday that even if the child doesn’t have to testify against Joseph Duncan, it’s in her best interest …


  • Shasta won’t need to testify

    BOISE – Shasta Groene won’t have to testify in federal court against killer Joseph Duncan under an agreement reached by both sides in the case. “The parties will stipulate that …


  • Guilty plea without deal is unusual, attorneys say

    Joseph Duncan’s decision to plead guilty to capital crimes without an agreement to avoid a death sentence is unusual but not unprecedented, said attorneys familiar with death penalty cases. “It …


  • Duncan admits to all 10 counts

    BOISE – A chilling tale of child molestation and murder emerged in a Boise courtroom Monday, as Joseph Duncan pleaded guilty to all counts in a federal indictment for kidnapping …


  • Duncan may plead guilty

    BOISE – Joseph Duncan, who has been charged with kidnapping two North Idaho children in 2005 and killing one of them, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea Monday in …


  • Duncan puts death penalty on trial

    BOISE – As Joseph Duncan awaits a federal trial that could bring a death sentence, the notorious North Idaho murderer’s case is becoming the focus of arguments about whether the …


  • Duncan lawyers challenge jury rules

    BOISE – Attorneys for convicted murderer Joseph Duncan have filed papers in court seeking to have his federal indictment for kidnapping, killing and child molesting thrown out because they contend …


  • Duncan’s January trial date unchanged

    BOISE – Joseph Duncan’s attorneys have plenty of time to prepare for a January trial, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge declared Friday, and he refused to let Duncan’s former lead …


  • Clarke to head Duncan team

    The attorney who defended Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and child-killer Susan Smith will head Joseph Duncan’s federal defense team. Judy Clarke, formerly federal defender for Eastern Washington and Idaho, is leading …


  • Computer experts to testify at Duncan trial

    Three computer forensic experts will testify at killer Joseph Duncan’s federal trial about the pictures, videos and journal entries found on his computer equipment, federal prosecutors said in a court …


  • Duncan misses deadline for wrongful death suit

    BOISE – Convicted murderer and sex offender Joseph Duncan failed to reply in time to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of the children Duncan is accused of …


  • Judge splits Duncan ruling

    Federal prosecutors can’t have a log of Joseph Duncan’s prison visitors, but U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge is allowing prosecutors to see some of the convicted killer’s mail. Defense attorneys …


  • Amid storm, Douglas confident

    Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas wants to be remembered as a good boss and a “fair, ethical prosecutor who was a voice for crime victims and who held criminals accountable.” …


  • Gag order issued in Duncan trial

    U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge has issued a gag order to quell pretrial publicity in the federal case against convicted killer Joseph Duncan. Attorneys, witnesses and prospective witnesses in …


  • Shasta’s home nearly done

    Shasta Groene will have a home next week with her own petal-pink bedroom and a Caribbean-themed playroom. After months of fundraising and work, the Coeur d’Alene house built entirely with …


  • Forensics experts expected to testify against Duncan

    Federal prosecutors have identified the first expert witnesses expected to testify in the case against convicted killer Joseph Duncan. A forensic anthropologist and forensic odontologist from the Armed Forces Institute …


  • Duncan case crawls forward, 2 years later

    BOISE – Lawyers are busy filing motions and compiling evidence. Court clerks are updating the docket and scheduling hearings. The federal case against Joseph Duncan is moving slowly toward trial. …