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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


  • Duncan’s lawyers get 3 extra months

    Joseph Edward Duncan’s attorneys have been given three more months to prepare a defense for the suspected murderer. Public defender John Adams said his office needed more time to sort …


  • Duncan’s attorneys want to push back trial date

    Joseph Duncan’s attorneys are asking for more time to prepare for their client’s murder and kidnapping trial. Public defender John Adams has filed a motion to vacate the scheduled Jan. …


  • Brother says Duncan was planning to turn self in

    Convicted sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III was trying to return 8-year-old abduction victim Shasta Groene when he was captured with the girl in a restaurant, Duncan’s brother told a …


  • Attorneys agree: No video copy

    Attorneys came to an agreement Wednesday that will prevent copies from being made of pornographic videos that Joseph Edward Duncan allegedly made as he held Dylan and Shasta Groene at …


  • Duncan’s attorneys split over videos

    Lawyers for sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III are split over whether to press for copies of child-porn videos involving Duncan’s alleged victims, Duncan’s federal public defender said Saturday. While …


  • Douglas forsakes fight over e-mails

    Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas dropped his opposition Friday to the release of hundreds of e-mails exchanged between himself and a former employee, saying he no longer wants the distraction …


  • Douglas fights videos’ duplication

    Duplicating videos that Joseph Duncan allegedly made would jeopardize an ongoing state and federal child pornography investigation, Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said Thursday. Douglas, in a new legal brief, …


  • Family wants investigation of Duncan in death

    FARGO, N.D. – The family of a Montana man who was found dead near Devils Lake three years ago is asking the FBI to investigate whether convicted sex offender Joseph …


  • Prosecutors: Don’t copy videos for Duncan defense

    Prosecutors are asking 1st District Judge Fred Gibler to reconsider his order that graphic videos seized as part of the murder and kidnapping investigation into suspected serial killer Joseph Edward …


  • Fuhrman got no help from police

    The FBI said Friday that law enforcement never escorted Mark Fuhrman to Montana crime scenes where Joseph Edward Duncan III allegedly held two young kidnapping victims. Duncan’s defense team raised …


  • Transcripts detail murder, kidnapping case

    Court transcripts unsealed Friday shed more light on how authorities believe Joseph Edward Duncan III murdered three members of a Coeur d’Alene family – and about the weeks that he …


  • Duncan used kids to make porn videos

    Suspected serial killer Joseph Duncan used his young captives to produce child pornography videos, authorities acknowledged for the first time Wednesday. The disclosure came amid heated confrontations between prosecutors and …


  • Victim’s brother files tort claim

    COEUR D’ALENE – The brother of a man who was killed with his girlfriend and her son has filed a $500,000 tort claim accusing a Minnesota judge and prosecutor of …


  • Oprah airs Groene story

    Oprah Winfrey has had it with sex offenders being released from prison only to abduct, abuse and even commit murder. Shasta Groene’s story out of Kootenai County was the last …


  • Oprah set to share Groene tragedy

    “Kidnapped by a Pedophile: The Shasta Groene Tragedy” is the title of today’s “Oprah Winfrey Show.” Steve Groene, father of the 8-year-old kidnapping victim from Coeur d’Alene, was interviewed by …


  • Grateful community hails a hero

    Amber Deahn pinned a fading yellow ribbon to her shirt Wednesday afternoon – a yellow ribbon that was just recently taken off a Beaumont, Calif., woman’s fridge and addressed to …


  • Auction site listed supposed Duncan letter

    A letter purportedly sent by convicted sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III was listed on an Internet auction site that specializes in selling items related to serial killers. The letter …


  • Man pleads innocent in sex offender killings

    BELLINGHAM – A man charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the killings of two registered sex offenders has pleaded innocent in Whatcom County Superior Court, the prosecutor’s …


  • Duncan may face child porn charges

    Joseph Edward Duncan may face several federal charges for felonies he allegedly committed in Montana while holding Dylan and Shasta Groene captive, including production of child pornography, the Idaho U.S. …


  • Four who helped save Shasta share reward

    Up until the early morning hours of July 2, Phillip “Nick” Chapman, Chris Donlan, Amber Deahn and Linda Olson were four ordinary people. The kind of people you might see …


  • Predators’ brains a key for researchers

    For months, anyone could follow the epic struggle in the mind of Joseph Edward Duncan III — live, on the Internet. “It is a battle between me and my demons,” …


  • ‘Oprah’ gets Groenes – minus Shasta

    The Groene family is sharing its story with Oprah Winfrey. Family spokeswoman Wendy Price said the family has agreed to avoid discussing details of the show, which they expect will …


  • Attorney wants statements held back

    The attorney for murder suspect Joseph Edward Duncan III is asking the court to suppress statements that Duncan allegedly made during jailhouse interviews in late July. Public Defender John Adams …


  • Duncan’s extradition will wait

    Joseph Edward Duncan won’t be extradited to Minnesota to face charges for a July 2004 assault on two children at a Minnesota playground until after the state of Idaho finishes …


  • Police say Duncan case may have motivated slayings

    BELLINGHAM – A man arrested in the shooting deaths of two convicted child rapists tried to plead guilty Tuesday before he had even been formally charged. Police said Michael Anthony …


  • Sex offenders without addresses throw notification system for a loop

    OLYMPIA – Washington’s long-standing policy of notifying neighbors when a high-risk sex offender moves in has spawned a growing number of homeless sex offenders who are much harder to track, …


  • Duncan silent on charges

    Suspected serial killer Joseph E. Duncan III didn’t utter a word Tuesday, even as a judge informed him he could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering a North …


  • Duncan will enter plea today

    COEUR d’ALENE – With the number of child slayings in which he is considered a suspect increased to six, registered sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III will enter a plea …


  • Schools to check visitors against sex offender lists

    Coeur d’Alene’s 10 elementary schools will begin checking visitors and volunteers against sex offender registries from 42 states beginning this fall. The Coeur d’Alene School Board on Monday approved the …


  • Police add patrols as students arrive

    College students better mind their driving this weekend. The Washington State Patrol is conducting emphasis patrols Friday through Sunday in anticipation of students heading to Washington State University and the …


  • Duncan lawyer stops cop interviews

    Any new jailhouse revelations are unlikely to come from Joseph E. Duncan III until after his trial on murder and kidnapping charges. Shortly after Duncan was arrested July 1 in …


  • Duncan had details on slain Seattle girls

    Within days of his arrest last month, North Idaho multiple-murder suspect Joseph Edward Duncan III implicated himself in the 1996 deaths of two Seattle girls during a conversation with FBI …