Joseph E. Duncan III
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|“||Joseph Duncan is the personification of evil. He's the Boogeyman. He's everybody that you should need to fear.||„|
|~ FBI Agent Donald Robinson, Jr.|
Joseph Edward Duncan III (February 25th, 1963 - March 28th, 2021) was a convicted serial killer and child molester whose most well-known crime was his brutal slaying of various members of the Groene family in 2005. He also committed multiple other rapes and murders. Due to his extensive criminal histroy, Duncan spent all but 6 years of his adult life in prison.
Born in Tacoma, Washington, Duncan's criminal history dates to when he was 15 years old, committing his first recorded sex crime in 1978 in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. In that incident, he raped a nine-year-old boy at gunpoint. The following year, he was arrested driving a stolen car. He was sentenced as a juvenile and sent to Dyslin's Boys' ranch in Tacoma, where, according to a report by the Associated Press, he told a therapist who was assigned to his case that he had bound and sexually assaulted six boys. He also told the therapist that he estimated that he had raped 13 younger boys by the time he was 16.
In 1980, also in Tacoma, Duncan stole a number of guns from a neighbor and then abducted a 14-year-old boy and sodomized him at gunpoint. Duncan was sentenced to 20 years in prison for this crime, but was released on parole in 1994 after serving 14 years. While out on parole, Duncan is known to have lived in several places in the Seattle area. He was arrested again in 1996 — this time for marijuana use — and released on parole several weeks later with new restrictions. Authorities believe that during his parole Duncan murdered Sammiejo White and Carmen Cubias in Seattle in 1996 and Anthony Martinez in Riverside County, California in 1997; however, both those cases went cold and were not tied to Duncan until after his arrest in the Groene case. Duncan was arrested in Kansas and returned to prison in 1997 after violating the terms of his parole; he was released from prison on July 14, 2000 with time off for good behavior and moved to Fargo, North Dakota.
In May 2005, Kootenai County, Idaho, authorities discovered the bodies of Brenda Groene, her boyfriend, and her 13-year-old son in the family home near Coeur d'Alene. Authorities also noted that Groene's two other children were missing: Shasta, 8, and Dylan, 9. After an intense search for the two children, Shasta was found alive with Duncan at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene nearly seven weeks later, and Duncan was arrested in conjunction with her kidnapping. When the authorities rescued Shasta, she told them that Duncan said that he was bringing her back to her father because Duncan had changed his mind about killing her. She said that Duncan stated that she "taught him how to love." Dylan's remains were found days later in a remote area near St. Regis, Montana. Duncan was subsequently charged with murdering Dylan as well as the three victims at the Coeur d'Alene home.
During his incarceration, authorities connected Duncan with the unsolved murders of Anthony Martinez in California and two girls in Seattle, which all occurred during Duncan's parole from 1994–1997. Of those murders, Duncan has only been charged in the California case. In all, Duncan has been convicted in Idaho for kidnapping and murdering the three victims in Coeur d'Alene, for which he was given six life sentences; in federal court for kidnapping Shasta and Dylan Groene and murdering Dylan, for which he was given three death sentences and three life sentences; and in the state of California for kidnapping and murdering Martinez, for which he was given two life sentences.
Prior to his arrest for murder, Duncan maintained a personal website, entitled "The Fifth Nail". According to lore, in addition to the four nails used to pierce the body of Jesus Christ in his crucifixion, there was a fifth nail that was taken away and hidden by the Romans. Duncan adopted the name for his own website and blog. The website depicted Duncan's day-to-day life as a sex offender. In the blog, he denied being a pedophile, and claimed to have been sexually abused as a child.
While he was on death row, Duncan maintained a blogspot website titled "Joseph E. Duncan III returns to the web from Federal death row to expose the meaning of the Fifth Nail" in the introduction. His most recent contributions were under "The Fifth Nail Exposed: Confessions". All the content on the site is posted by someone called Silenced, who presumably receives letters from Duncan to post on the site on his behalf.
John Adams (Kootenai County public defender) and prosecutor Bill Douglas declined to comment on the possibility that Duncan was blogging from prison. Inmates don't have access to Internet, and while outgoing letters are scanned for requests for contraband or for help in planning an escape, they aren't read word for word.
In October 2020, Duncan underwent brain surgery after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma. He declined any treatment and rejected chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Medical staff at the Federal Bureau of Prisons estimated he had between six and twelve months left to live. He died on March 28, 2021, at the age of 58.