Stasta, Above Left – Dylan, Above Right
On May 16, 2005, authorities discovered the bodies of Brenda Groene, 40; her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, 37; and her son, Slade Groene, 13, in their home along Lake Coeur d’Alene, outside the city of Coeur d’Alene. Two of Brenda Groene’s other children, Dylan, 9, and Shasta, 8, were missing. An AMBER Alert was issued and searchers combed the area for the missing children while authorities investigated the deaths at the home as homicides.Autopsies determined the cause of death to be “blunt trauma to the head”; authorities also noted that the victims had been bound.
Seven weeks later, in the early morning hours of July 2, 2005, Shasta Groene was seen in a man’s custody at a Denny’s restaurant in Coeur d’Alene. A waitress, manager, and two customers at the restaurant recognized Shasta from the media attention and surreptitiously called police and positioned themselves to prevent Duncan from leaving.Police officers arrived at the restaurant and arrested the man, later identified as Duncan, without incident.[ Shasta Groene identified herself to a waitress at the restaurant and to authorities, and was taken to Kootenai Medical Center for medical treatment and to be reunited with her father. Coeur d’Alene police, meanwhile, detained Duncan on kidnapping charges and on his outstanding federal warrant
When Shasta Groene was found without Dylan, authorities held little hope of finding the boy alive. Police asked the public for tips, specifically with respect to sightings of the stolen red Jeep Cherokee with Missouri license plates that Duncan was driving at the time of his arrest.Authorities discovered that Duncan had rented the car in Minnesota and never returned it. A gas station employee in Kellogg, about 40 miles (64 km) east of Coeur d’Alene, recognized the vehicle as one that had stopped at her station hours before Duncan was arrested. The employee suspected the girl wandering around the station might have been Shasta, but did not confront her, as nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The employee and her manager notified authorities after reviewing surveillance camera footage and seeing Duncan and Shasta in the video.
Many tips provided to authorities centered around remote areas along the Idaho–Montana border. On July 4, 2005, investigators found human remains at a remote makeshift campsite in the Lolo National Forest near St. Regis, Montana.The remains were sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia for DNA testing and were positively identified as Dylan Groene.
Shasta Groene’s interview
Much of what is known about the murders of the Groene family was revealed by Shasta Groene herself. According to Shasta Groene’s police interview, Duncan killed her mother, older brother and her mother’s fiance and then took her and her brother away in the red Jeep Cherokee.
Shasta told investigators her mother called her into the living room, from her bedroom where she had been sleeping, and she saw Duncan wearing black gloves and holding a gun. Her captor tied her mother’s hands with nylon zip ties, and did the same to her mother’s fiance and her brother Slade. Dylan and Shasta were removed from the house and placed inside the stolen rental car. While she waited with her brother, she heard her mother’s fiance scream out and then saw her injured older brother staggering away from the entrance to the home. Duncan then bludgeoned the three to death; neither Shasta nor Dylan witnessed the murders. Both Shasta and Dylan were removed to other locations, where they were repeatedly molested for six weeks. Joseph Duncan taunted the children and videotaped sessions for his own sick pleasure. He video-taped himself sexually assualting and then shooting Dylan in the Stomach and laughing as the little boy layed there dying. Stasta said that they drove a long distance and stayed in two different campsites, Duncan told her of having beaten her family members to death with a hammer. Dylan’s remains were found in a remote, woodland area in Montana days after Shasta was rescued. Shasta is now in the custody of her father.
Duncan linked to Anthony Martinez – Cold Case
Duncan’s arrest led the FBI to launch a nationwide review of unsolved missing child cases. He was implicated as a possible suspect in several crimes that occurred between 1994 and 1997, when he was on parole, and between 2000 and 2005, when he was free from prison. Although he was cleared as a suspect in some cases, authorities in California and Washington had enough evidence to believe Duncan had committed unsolved murders in their jurisdictions.
Duncan link to Anthony Martinez – Cold case
On April 4, 1997, 10-year-old Anthony Michael Martinez was playing with friends in the front yard of his home in Beaumont, California, when an unknown man approached the group asking for help finding a missing cat. When the boys refused, the man grabbed Martinez at knifepoint and threw him into his vehicle. After a 2-week search, on April 19 Martinez’s body was found nude and partially decomposed in Indio. Investigators noted that he had been sexually assaulted and bound with duct tape. Although a composite sketch of the suspect was made available and a partial fingerprint taken from the duct tape found on Martinez’s body, the case eventually went cold.
In July 2005, bloggers noticed similarities between Duncan and the composite sketch in the Martinez case, as well as between Duncan’s vehicle and the one Martinez’s assailant was driving.The FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became involved, and in turn contacted Riverside County authorities. Riverside authorities were able to match the fingerprint taken from Martinez’s body to Duncan, and on August 3 the Riverside County Sheriff officially announced Duncan’s connection with the Martinez case.