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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Prayers, family’s love needed now

The Spokesman-Review

Since Saturday morning, when Shasta Groene was found alive, TV newscasters throughout the country have played over and over a homemade video clip of Shasta making a presentation at school. The video is difficult to watch, knowing that Shasta’s life will now be divided into two segments – life before the tragedy and life after.

The Groene family tragedy began in the middle of May when three members of the family – including Shasta’s mother and older brother – were bludgeoned to death. Shasta, 8, and her brother, 9-year-old Dylan, disappeared at the same time.

This family tragedy is unlikely to end soon, as Shasta’s reappearance raised more questions than it answered. The biggest question now remains: Where is Dylan? Officers have found remains, but are not yet sure they are Dylan’s.

The tragedy took a creepy and sinister turn with the discovery that for the past several weeks, Shasta, and possibly Dylan, have been in the company of Joseph Edward Duncan, a registered sex offender.

On his alleged Web site, Duncan worried that his “demons” were taking him over. He prayed for help against them, but he also wrote: “My intent is to harm society as much as I can, then die.”

Duncan’s appearance in the tragedy also raises more questions than it answers. How did his life intersect with the life of the Groenes?

How and why did he end up at Denny’s in Coeur d’Alene where Shasta was finally rescued? And if the customers and staff at Denny’s hadn’t acted upon their instincts, what fate awaited Shasta?

The questions may all be answered someday, long after Geraldo Rivera and all the other journalists have moved onto the next sensational murder and kidnapping story.

But Shasta, the gentle child in the homemade video, will live with this for the rest of her life. The only thing to be sure of today is that many people hope and pray that Shasta receives the best help available to heal from this tragedy.

Motherless now, at a time when she desperately needs a mother, may she find surrogate mothers in the women surrounding her.

This already happened in Denny’s when waitress Amber Deahn took Shasta into her arms and held her as she cried, finally safe from any immediate danger. As Shasta’s long-term recovery continues, may she find other surrogate mothers among her extended family, health-care providers and mental health professionals.

As soon as she was rescued, Shasta said, “I want my daddy.” May her father, Steve Groene, find the strength and support to be the strong, consistent and reliable father Shasta needs now more than ever.

Finally, all these unanswered questions about the past, and all the unknowns about the family’s future, should not cloud the elation over the best news to surface from this tragedy – Shasta Groene is alive and back home.

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