Hammer likely used as murder weapon
Posted: Friday, Jul 08, 2005 - 08:02:09 am PDT
By DAVE TURNER
Sheriff: Sex was motive, but killings were planned
COEUR d'ALENE -- Three members of a Wolf Lodge Bay-area family were killed with a hammer, sources familiar with the investigation said on Thursday.
The sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said they believe investigators are still looking for the murder weapon.
Sources said wounds on the bodies of Brenda Kay Groene, 40, her son, Slade Groene, 13, and boyfriend Mark Edward McKenzie, 37, show marks consistent with a hammer.
Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson wouldn't confirm that on Thursday.
"Investigators haven't told us what it was," Watson said. He also wouldn't confirm reports investigators haven't found the weapon.
But earlier in the investigation Watson said the items used in the slayings were brought into the home by the killer.
Watson said the evidence shows that Joseph Edward Duncan III planned the abductions of Shasta Groene, 8, her brother, Dylan, 9, and the slayings.
All three were discovered bound and bludgeoned early the night of May 16 at their Frontage Road home.
Authorities said evidence indicates that Duncan acted alone.
"The victims were selected at random," Watson said, "but this was not a spontaneous act. He planned it."
Duncan, of Fargo, N.D., is being held without bail at the Kootenai County jail on two charges of first-degree kidnapping. He could face the death penalty.
Watson also said the killings appeared to be sexually motivated.
"That's certainly one of the theories investigators are looking into," sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said.
Duncan, 42, a level-3 convicted child rapist, was arrested early Saturday at Denny's restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.
Shasta was rescued at the restaurant, but authorities believe the boy is dead. DNA test results to identify the remains won't be ready until next week, authorities said.
Investigators said Monday they found human remains near a campground near St. Regis, Mont., where Shasta said Duncan took them.
Duncan, who served 14 years in the Washington prison system, then another four-year stint for parole violations, was convicted in 1980 of raping a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint. At the time of his arrest on Saturday, Duncan was wanted in Minnesota for failing to appear on new child molestation charges.
Court officials released the audio recordings of Tuesday's probable cause hearing, where Magistrate Judge Scott Wayman was asked to officially charge Duncan with the crimes.
In the tape, Kootenai County sheriff's major crimes investigator, detective Sgt. Brad Maskell, described an interview conducted with Shasta.
In it, Maskell said Shasta was awakened when her mother called to her and told her to come into the living room. Maskell said Shasta then watched as Duncan tied up everyone in the home.
Shasta told investigators Duncan carried her and Dylan out to a pickup truck and drove from the property before transferring them into a red Jeep Laredo.
Watson confirmed on Thursday a white pickup confiscated after the killings near a neighbor's home about a quarter-mile away was used in the abductions.
Shasta also said she never met Duncan before and no one else was involved in the alleged abduction.
Maskell also testified how Shasta told them about being taken to campsites near St. Regis, where she and her brother suffered repeated acts of sexual abuse at the hands of their abductor.
But the tape does not describe anything about the killings or their brutal nature.
Watson said this crime will likely go a long way toward changing the way criminal profilers look at murders of this kind.
"He's not filling the profile of what we were led to believe from looking at that crime scene," he said.
Watson said the crime scene suggested the killer was somebody who had "personal knowledge and personal anger of the people in that house ... to create a crime scene that angry.
"To be that angry with somebody, they would have to know them, to have done something to them," Watson said. "All of our indications are the family didn't know this man."
While Watson said investigators continue to sort through leads to eliminate any other potential suspects or motives, he said Duncan's arrest has allowed him to rest easier.
"Based on the information given me, I'm confident the children in our community are as safe now as they were before this happened," he said.
But he admitted it's still a scary thought that someone can come into town, seemingly unnoticed, kill people, steal children and leave again.
Duncan is scheduled for a preliminary hearing into the charges on July 19 in front of Magistrate Judge Benjamin Simpson.
Dave Turner can be reached at 664-8176, ext. 2009 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2005, The Coeur d'Alene Press. All rights reserved.