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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


  • 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. …


  • Students pitch in for Shasta

    Aspen Stam dipped strawberries in chocolate. Byron Jarnes peddled candy bars. Tyler Opp gave up two weeks’ worth of allowance. The reason: “For Shasta,” said 8-year-old Tyler, a third-grade student …


  • Shasta’s home under way

    A community effort to build a house for the lone survivor of one of the Coeur d’Alene area’s most notorious crimes reached a milestone Tuesday morning. More than 50 people …


  • Duncan’s next trial set for January

    Joseph Duncan will stand trial in January 2008, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge said in an order issued Thursday. The Jan. 22, 2008, trial date is somewhat of a …


  • Steve Groene says time running out

    BOISE – Steve Groene told a federal court Monday that he’s dying of throat cancer – and if Joseph Duncan’s trial is put off for a year and a half, …


  • In brief: Prisoner sentenced for ‘04 shooting death

    A man who’s in prison for killing three people in a traffic collision was sentenced Thursday in another case in which he killed a man while fiddling with a loaded …


  • In brief: Shooting range plan for pit discussed

    The Kootenai County commission wants to have another public hearing before deciding whether to allow a shooting range in a gravel pit east of state Highway 41. The April 26 …


  • In brief: Duncan attorneys seek 18-month trial delay

    Attorneys for convicted killer Joseph Duncan want to postpone his federal trial by a year and a half. Thursday’s request by Duncan’s attorneys comes a day after a request by …


  • California wants Duncan for trial

    BOISE – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday demanded that convicted killer Joseph Duncan be shipped to his state to be tried for the 1997 slaying of a 10-year-old boy, …


  • ‘Home for Shasta’ gains momentum

    Most of the labor and materials needed to build a home for Shasta Groene have been donated, and enough cash has been raised to put a down payment on a …


  • Duncan confessed, feds say

    A decade before Joseph Duncan allegedly abducted and killed Dylan Groene, he killed two girls in Western Washington and a boy in Southern California – crimes to which he has …


  • Duncan lawyer to seek delay

    BOISE – Joseph Duncan was ordered Friday to stand trial in federal court in March, but his attorney says the convicted killer’s defense won’t be ready by then. “The responsibilities …


  • Feds indict Duncan

    A federal grand jury indicted Joseph Duncan on Thursday for the torture killing of 9-year-old Dylan Groene and the May 2005 kidnappings of the boy and his sister, Shasta, from …


  • Feds file charge to keep Duncan in Idaho

    BOISE – Federal prosecutors have filed their first charge against convicted murderer Joseph Duncan, but it’s not for abducting two North Idaho children and killing one of them. Duncan has …


  • Decisions not made on 2nd Duncan trial

    A decision hasn’t been made on where Joseph Duncan might be tried for alleged crimes against the youngest Groene children, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Haws said Tuesday. Haws said he’s …


  • In brief: Groene seeking motorcycle raffle

    Steve Groene is looking for a nonprofit group that can raffle off his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Some proceeds from the bike’s raffle will go to the individuals who helped rescue his …


  • 12 months that were anything but dull

    The year 2006 was a time of comings and goings for the Inland Northwest, in academia, sports, law enforcement and politics. Coming were Eastern Washington University’s new president Rodolfo Arevalo …


  • Year in review

    January 1: Jonathan Wade Ellington runs over and kills Vonette Larson of Athol in an apparent case of road rage that involved chases and gunfire. He is later sentenced to …


  • Groene gets surprise gift: custom bike

    Steve Groene arrived at The Coeur d’Alene Resort on Friday anticipating a press conference about the federal case against Joseph Edward Duncan III, the man who killed Groene’s 13-year-old son …


  • FBI investigating Duncan conection to N.D. death

    FARGO, N.D. – The FBI is investigating whether convicted murderer and sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III might be involved in the slaying of a Montana teenager found dead in …


  • McKenzie files suit to block Duncan profit

    The brother of murder victim Mark McKenzie is suing to prevent confessed killer Joseph Edward Duncan from making money off his crimes. Steve McKenzie filed the suit on behalf of …


  • Duncan defense costs add up

    Joseph Duncan’s defense team spent about $400,000 preparing for his triple-murder trial in Coeur d’Alene before the trial was canceled last week after a last-minute plea bargain. The Kootenai County …


  • Duncan describes murders in detail, gets moved to state prison

    After 478 days in isolation, Kootenai County’s most notorious inmate was transferred Monday to the state’s maximum-security prison in Kuna, Idaho. Joseph Duncan was moved three days after an interview …


  • Shasta key to Duncan plea deal

    Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said Wednesday he feels bad for family members of Joseph Duncan’s murder victims if they misunderstood key points in the plea deal that Douglas crafted …


  • Duncan admits guilt

    Justice and closure. The words were repeated again and again Monday morning as investigators, attorneys and victims’ relatives reacted to Joseph Duncan’s admission that he murdered three members of a …


  • Password is key bargaining chip

    Joseph Duncan didn’t throw in all his cards when he accepted a last-minute plea deal that short-circuited the need for a jury trial. As part of the unique plea bargain, …


  • Duncan deal in works?

    Jury selection in the triple-murder trial of Joseph Edward Duncan III has been canceled, fueling speculation that a plea deal has been reached with Kootenai County prosecutors. Kootenai County sheriff’s …


  • The case against Duncan

    Joseph Edward Duncan will be tried in Kootenai County without two key pieces of evidence: The murder weapon and physical proof that in May 2005 he was in the Wolf …


  • Death sentence would be first for prosecutor, defender

    If Joseph Duncan is convicted and sentenced to death, it will be a first for both Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams and Prosecutor Bill Douglas. In the dozen years …


  • Duncan jury selection closed

    The public and news media will not be allowed to watch jury selection in the Joseph Duncan murder-kidnapping trial that begins Monday in Coeur d’Alene. First District Judge Fred Gibler …


  • Duncan jury pool gets questionnaire

    A hefty jury questionnaire was mailed recently to 800 Kootenai County residents summoned for the jury pool in the Joseph Duncan triple-murder trial. The prospective jurors, who are scheduled to …