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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


  • New judge picked for Duncan case

    First District Judge Fred Gibler has been assigned to Kootenai County’s biggest criminal case after fellow Judge John Mitchell was disqualified by the Kootenai County prosecutor. The prosecutor filed a …


  • Duncan encrypted data on computer

    Three days before police say he murdered an Idaho family, Joseph Duncan bragged online about an encrypted, tell-all journal that wouldn’t be broken into for decades. He figured technology would …


  • Duncan waives preliminary hearing

    Joseph Edward Duncan III, who is accused of kidnapping and murdering members of a Coeur d’Alene-area family in May, waived his preliminary hearing Friday. Duncan will face an arraignment next, …


  • Duncan may have more victims

    Investigators are now reviewing unsolved missing children cases nationwide for possible links to kidnapping and murder suspect Joseph Edward Duncan III. Typically, the arrest of a violent sexual predator would …


  • Probation records reveal Duncan’s travels

    After being paroled in 1994, sex offender Joseph Duncan traveled throughout the Seattle area and to several states. Here, based on state probation records, are some of Duncan’s movements: “Sept. …


  • Washington looks to toughen sex-offense laws

    OLYMPIA – Frustrated by a sex offender’s alleged attack and slaying of the Groene family in North Idaho, Washington state legislators are considering tougher laws. Some are calling for a …


  • Sheriff rewards Shasta’s rescuers

    Two Denny’s employees were rewarded Thursday for their role in the rescue of Shasta Groene earlier this month, but her father thinks another rescuer was shortchanged and is considering giving …


  • KMC workers disciplined for viewing records

    Four workers at Kootenai Medical Center were disciplined recently for violating Shasta Groene’s privacy, after they viewed her medical records even though they weren’t part of her medical team. The …


  • Stupidity, ego, may explain why suspects stayed in region

    John Tuggle walked into a convenience store on Wednesday, past his own wanted poster hanging on the door, to ask a clerk behind the counter about packaged hotdogs. After Tuggle …


  • Groene case inspiring adults to discuss abuse with children

    The recent murder and kidnapping case in Coeur d’Alene’s back yard depressed children’s advocate Tinka Schaffer, but she also saw an opportunity in the accompanying publicity to help teach children …


  • Worst molesters unsupervised

    BOISE – Idaho’s sex offender law has a major gap – it methodically identifies the worst, most violent offenders who are most likely to reoffend, but then allows them to …


  • Region struggles to cope with crimes

    Sitting at the end of the bar in the American Legion Post 149 in Athol, manager Shirley Hyke doesn’t know what North Idaho is coming to. The brutal killings and …


  • Minnesota judge has tough reputation

    DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – A judge who’s under fire for allowing sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III to go free on bail is regarded locally as so tough that defendants …


  • Duncan excluded in missing girl case

    CHISHOLM, Minn. – Investigators have ruled out convicted sex offender Joseph E. Duncan III as a suspect in the disappearance more than two years ago of a 5-year-old Chisholm girl, …


  • Duncan’s prison file reveals skilled liar, sexual deviant

    OLYMPIA – Shortly after Joseph Edward Duncan III’s initial release from prison, his therapist and parole officer clashed over the appropriateness of the sex life he adopted as part of …


  • Duncan tried to get child porn in prison

    OLYMPIA – State prison records released Monday show that Joseph Edward Duncan III, as a prison inmate in Walla Walla, protested when officials there prevented him from receiving a publication …


  • Bikers rally around Shasta

    It was a mechanized thunderstorm that lasted more than six hours on the Idaho-Washington border. Bikers, saddled on more than 500 Harley-Davidsons, converged Sunday at a small bar in Stateline …


  • Tough task for Duncan defense

    John Adams and Lynn Nelson appear to have a thankless job. The two criminal defense attorneys are representing Joseph E. Duncan III, the 42-year-old sex offender who’s facing multiple murder …


  • Diverse crowd mourns Dylan

    On a day that should have been filled with presents and bike rides, a grieving family and community laid Dylan James Groene to rest. It would have been his 10th …


  • Duncan galvanizes a city on death penalty

    When the Rev. Patrick W. Bell stands before his congregation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church today, he will preach that part of God’s plan involves the bad and the good …


  • Duncan bloggers logging big hours

    Bloggers from across the nation, often with no professional investigative training, are digging into details of Joseph E. Duncan III’s history, hoping their undercover work will make an impact on …


  • Purchase of goggles detailed

    FARGO, N.D. – Joseph Duncan bought night-vision goggles here two days before renting a car in the Minneapolis area and vanishing, police documents show. Duncan, a convicted sex offender whose …


  • Service for Dylan today

    A public memorial service for Dylan Groene is scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Building 2 of Real Life Ministries, 1866 Cecil Rd., Post Falls. Dylan was born July 16, …


  • Dylan Groene’s funeral set for day boy would have turned 10

    A public memorial service for Dylan James Groene, 9, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls. Dylan’s death is still the subject of a …


  • Duncan hears his charges

    Joseph E. Duncan III sat mute throughout his first court appearance on three first-degree murder and three first-degree kidnapping charges Wednesday. He was mostly stone-faced during the short proceeding, except …


  • Fargo man helped Duncan make bail

    FARGO, N.D. – A businessman wrote registered sex offender Joseph Duncan a $15,000 personal check to help Duncan make bail after he was charged with child molestation in Minnesota, police …


  • Family’s top concern shielding Shasta

    Shasta Groene spent Tuesday afternoon much like any other kid. “She’s running through the sprinklers and watching cartoons,” said her grandmother, Darlene Torres. “She’s just playing and being a kid. …


  • Deputy: Duncan stalked family

    Joseph E. Duncan III studied the household of Brenda Groene and Mark McKenzie for two or three days before he killed them and Groene’s 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, with a …


  • Three murder charges await kidnap suspect

    The Kootenai County prosecutor plans to file three counts of first-degree murder charges today against Joseph Edward Duncan III in the bludgeoning deaths of Brenda Groene, Slade Groene and Mark …


  • Remains are Dylan’s

    The FBI has identified the human remains found in a rugged area of Western Montana as those of Dylan Groene, the 9-year-old North Idaho boy who had been missing since …


  • Fargo neighbors saw no warning

    FARGO, N.D. – Joseph E. Duncan III lived a quiet life in this quiet High Plains town. Those who knew him say he was intelligent, courteous and a loner. The …


  • $15,000 bail haunts Minnesota town

    DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Attorney Stuart Kitzmann made a point of dropping by his town’s courthouse early April 5 to get a look at the stranger accused of molesting two …