Joseph Duncan


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

  • Groene leaves Seattle hospital after surgery

    The father of kidnap victim Shasta Groene was released from a Seattle hospital on Monday after his vocal cords and a cancerous tumor were removed, the University of Washington Medical …

  • Steve Groene files lawsuit against Duncan

    Steve Groene is suing to keep the man accused of killing two of his sons and kidnapping and molesting his daughter from profiting from the crimes. The lawsuit was filed …

  • Feds want death penalty

    The U.S. attorney general’s office has given federal prosecutors the green light to seek the death penalty for murder suspect Joseph Duncan. It’s a development some hope will lead to …

  • Shasta worries as trial nears

    Shasta Groene is “pretty scared and nervous” about having to testify against Joseph Duncan at his triple-murder trial next month, the Idaho girl’s father said Thursday. Now the 9-year-old has …

  • Duncan’s statements ruled admissible

    Jurors in Joseph Duncan’s triple-murder trial can hear incriminating statements the suspected killer made following his arrest, 1st District Judge Fred Gibler ruled Thursday. Gibler denied a motion by Duncan’s …

  • Groene case prompted attacks

    OLYMPIA – Nearly a year after he was arrested, Michael Anthony Mullen says it was an infamous North Idaho case – Joseph Edward Duncan’s alleged kidnapping, sexually abusing and killing …

  • Feds plan to seek execution for Duncan

    Federal prosecutors want to seek the death penalty for Joseph Duncan, the U.S. attorney’s office confirmed Friday. The ultimate decision on whether Duncan could face death for alleged crimes against …

  • Shasta can’t face away, lawyer says

    Because Joseph Duncan isn’t charged with crimes against Shasta Groene in Kootenai County, his attorney says the 9-year-old must face Duncan in court when she testifies against him later this …

  • Shasta may testify in person

    If 1st District Judge Fred Gibler finds the 9-year-old is capable of taking the stand, Shasta Groene will be in the same room as Joseph Duncan when she testifies against …

  • Lawyers clash over Duncan statements

    Public Defender John Adams fought passionately Tuesday to keep statements Joseph Duncan made about Shasta Groene and crimes against her family from being used against the triple-murder suspect at his …

  • Prosecutors reply to Duncan motion

    Kootenai County prosecutors filed a reply to Joseph Duncan’s attorney late Thursday afternoon to keep the death penalty on the table in the homicide suspect’s case. Duncan is accused of …

  • Duncan won’t attend arguments

    Homicide suspect Joseph Duncan is not expected to appear in court next week during two days of arguments over motions in his triple-murder case, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s …

  • Duncan lawyer investigating state’s execution protocol

    Joseph Duncan isn’t set to be tried on triple-murder charges until October, but his attorney is already asking for the state’s protocol for lethal injection. Public Defender John Adams sent …

  • Duncan’s brother was a victim, too

    Bruce Duncan, 41, the brother of murder/child-rape suspect Joseph Edward Duncan III, has died in Western Washington. The cause of death was a heart aneurysm. But a good case can …

  • Huckleberries: Shasta Groene rescuer waiting for husband, not money

    Denny’s was proud of Amber Deahn and other employees after they helped rescue Shasta Groene from the clutches of sadistic Joseph Edward Duncan last July – so proud that it …

  • Sexual predator ballot proposal falls short

    Washington state voters will not get a chance in November to decide whether certain sexual predators should face life in prison after a single offense. Initiative 921 – also known …

  • Duncan: ‘It had to end’

    Joseph Duncan laughed at times and cried at times in the hour after he was booked into the Kootenai County Jail nearly one year ago, according to recently filed court …

  • Living’s difficult for sex offenders

    When the 30-day eviction notice arrived last month, he was upset but not surprised. After nearly two years on Idaho’s sex offender registry list, the Coeur d’Alene man is accustomed …

  • Shock still fresh

    They were ghastly crimes in a tranquil area near Coeur d’Alene. Three dead, bludgeoned with a hammer in their home. Two children missing. No leads or apparent motive.

  • Killings spark action

    In Washington, the state capitol is more than 300 miles from the Idaho home where the Groene-McKenzie family members were attacked, slain and abducted. But echoes from the horrific case …

  • Shasta’s best interest is his only interest

    Coeur d’Alene attorney John Sahlin became disenchanted with the legal process early in his career. He specialized in family law, an area he said many attorneys consider “one of the …

  • ‘It affects you. My wife, it affects her a lot’

    It’s May again and the grass has grown high along Bob Hollingsworth’s driveway. A year ago – last Mother’s Day weekend – the 73-year-old real estate broker hired a neighbor …

  • What’s next

    State v. Duncan “ Joseph Duncan, sitting in a Kootenai County jail cell since his arrest last summer, will face the death penalty if he is convicted for the May …

  • Duncan doesn’t want Shasta to take witness stand

    Steve Groene has made it clear he doesn’t want his daughter to have to take the stand and face the man accused of murdering her two brothers, her mother and …

  • Groene plea reaches feds

    A request by the father of Shasta Groene to drop the possibility of the death penalty in the state murder trial of Joseph Edward Duncan III also has reached the …

  • School may get plaque for Dylan

    Shasta Groene thinks it’s a great idea to have a plaque memorializing her slain brother on the playground at Fernan Elementary School, her father said Monday. Steve Groene persuaded Coeur …

  • Groene backs life sentence

    Steve Groene has asked for the death penalty case to be withdrawn against the man accused of kidnapping his daughter and murdering his two sons last year, Kootenai County Prosecutor …

  • Catching up with Steve Groene

    KIRKLAND – The man glanced at the stacks of petitions and hesitated. Automatic life in prison for certain sex crimes? “It seems a little harsh,” he said.

  • Washington yard sales to fund ‘Dylan’s Law’

    Facing a July deadline for a quarter-million signatures, proponents of a “one-strike” law for sex offenders are holding six yard sales across the state Saturday. “We need the support of …

  • Playground piece would honor Dylan

    Dylan Groene may be memorialized with a piece of playground equipment at Fernan Elementary School. The school’s principal has been contacted by a North Carolina man who wants to raise …

  • States get tougher on sex offenders

    OLYMPIA – Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed on Monday more than a dozen changes toughening sex offender laws, many prompted by lawmakers’ revulsion over child rapist Joseph Duncan’s alleged attacks …

  • Deadline looms for suit over Duncan’s release

    DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – A deadline for serving Becker County with a lawsuit over the release of accused kidnapper and killer Joseph E. Duncan III is approaching, but the county …




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