Steve Groene, whose family was traumatized when his children fell victim to a serial murderer and child molester in 2005, died early Monday. He was 62.
Relatives said the cause was stage 4 lung cancer.
Groene, who lived in Coeur d’Alene, had previously endured a battle with throat cancer, including multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, and multiple surgeries that left the former blues-rock singer without vocal cords.
Groene also was a motorcycle enthusiast, and on Monday many of his friends in the biker community mourned his death on social media.
Tragedy struck the Groene family in May 2005, when serial killer Joseph Duncan III broke into the Coeur d’Alene home where three of Groene’s children were living with their mother, Brenda Groene, and her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie.
Duncan – who had previously murdered a 10-year-old boy in Southern California – fatally bludgeoned Brenda Groene, McKenzie and 13-year-old Slade Groene.
Duncan then abducted 8-year-old Shasta Groene and 9-year-old Dylan Groene and took them to a remote campsite in Western Montana, where he abused and tortured them for weeks before shooting Dylan and burning his body.
Duncan was arrested and Shasta was rescued that July, after Duncan brought the girl back to the Coeur d’Alene area and a waitress at a Denny’s restaurant recognized her and called police.
While authorities searched for Shasta and Dylan, Steve Groene stood before TV cameras, pleading for their safe return. He continued speaking out in the years that followed, demanding swift justice.
Shasta Groene’s testimony about the heinous crimes helped secure Duncan’s convictions. The 56-year-old Duncan remains on death row in a federal prison in Indiana and recently lost an appeal to vacate his sentences.
Steve Groene drew public attention again last year as he feuded with the managers of the Shasta Groene Charitable Trust, who were seeking to evict him from the Coeur d’Alene home where he had lived since 2007. A judge sided with the trustees, concluding they should sell or rent out the house to benefit Shasta Groene, who lives in the Boise area.
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