Duncan III, the blogger who warned of his crimes: "My intention is to harm"

Two little boys were playing in their bathing suits in their backyard, unaware that a stranger was watching them from across the road, crouched in his car.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 May 2023 Thursday 22:27
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Duncan III, the blogger who warned of his crimes: "My intention is to harm"

Two little boys were playing in their bathing suits in their backyard, unaware that a stranger was watching them from across the road, crouched in his car. Late in the morning, that same individual broke into said house to murder members of the Groene family. Only the two smallest were left alive.

For the next six weeks, this sexual predator held the children captive, raping and beating one of them to death. The sole survivor pleaded for mercy and the man agreed to release her. However, he did not expect that several citizens would recognize the missing girl. Duncan III, a blogger who had announced his cruel intentions on the Internet, fell into the little girl's trap. He no longer had an escape.

Joseph Edward Duncan III was born on February 25, 1963 in New Orleans, the penultimate of five children. Shortly after, the whole family moved to Tacoma, a port city in the state of Washington, where the little boy began to cause problems at school.

It seems to be, as our protagonist later explained, that everything was due to the physical, sexual and psychological abuse suffered within the family. Hence, he found in marijuana the best escape route to remain oblivious to his particular personal "hell". Added to this was the stormy divorce of his parents in his teens and his first sexual depravities.

At sixteen, the boy had already raped another under fourteen at gunpoint, a weapon that, by the way, he had stolen from a neighbor after robbing his home. Once under arrest, Duncan confessed to thirteen more rapes.

“This position of power over children has become a very powerful and compulsive pattern,” officials from the sex offender program at Western State Hospital wrote. The year was 1980. In fact, according to this evaluation of his mental health, the young man was a "sexual psychopath."

After twenty-two months of hospital follow-up, the center's management decided to withdraw him from the treatment program for rapists as he was "not suitable" for it, and, in 1982, he was transferred to a prison to serve the rest of his sentence. Twenty years in jail.

Twelve years later, Duncan was paroled, though in 1996 he again broke the law by carrying marijuana and a gun. Thus, the judge imposed additional conditions on his probation, which did not prevent him from committing his first two murders on July 6, 1996.

Sammie Jo White, 11, and her stepsister, Carmen Cubias, 9, were kidnapped, raped and beaten to death in Seattle. The skeletal remains of her were found on February 10, 1998, in Bothell (Washington).

Despite Duncan's obligation to maintain regular contact with his probation officer, the young man again broke the law and disappeared. He ended up in the city of San Francisco, where he lived on the streets hiding from the authorities.

It was also around this time that the sexual predator committed his second crime: that of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez, while he was at home. It was April 1997 and Duncan was still on the hunt. However, the police were able to prevent this bloody homicide.

Shortly after, in August of that same year, the pedophile was arrested in Missouri and sent to prison for skipping parole, but no one could imagine that he had two murders behind him.

Between 2000 and 2005, Duncan was released after the prison board found insufficient evidence to say they were dealing with a repeat sexual predator. The young man took advantage of this circumstance to move to North Dakota and enroll in State University, but it was not long before he sexually abused two other children in Minnesota. When justice tried to apprehend him, Duncan fled and a federal warrant was issued for his arrest.

An important piece of information here is that, months before becoming a fugitive, the predator had begun to write a blog in the form of a diary called Blogging The Fifth Nail (the fifth nail, in reference to the supposed nail made, but never used during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ), where in addition to denouncing the bad treatment that society gave to sexual offenders, he warned of their future and macabre intentions.

Sex offenders are “routinely evicted, denied services and harassed due to community notifications,” Duncan wrote. And he proposed a solution: "If we want to help the victims, we have to help the criminals and recognize that they are also victims."

"We must see that they are not inherently 'bad' or 'evil.' They are confused and lost; making decisions based on a very distorted vision of reality”, he assured trying to justify that his pedophile behavior was due to the fact that he had previously suffered abuse.

"It is a battle between me and my demons," he also wrote in another entry on his blog. A diary where, some four or five days before the shocking murder of the Groene family, she made the following clear: "My intention is to harm society as much as I can, and then die." Her warning was left there, in the eyes of anyone. But no one believed him.

This is how on May 16, 2005, Duncan III put on night vision goggles and, in the middle of the night, assaulted the Groene home near Cour d'Alene. Once inside, he bound Brenda Groene, 40, her boyfriend Mark McKenzie, 37, and her son, Slade Groene, 13, with duct tape and zip ties. Next, he picked up a hammer and peppered them with blows.

The only two survivors, Dylan and Shasta, ages 9 and 8 respectively, were tied up and loaded into Duncan's red Jeep Cherokee and driven to western Montana. None of the little ones had to witness the carnage of their own family, but, instead, they suffered unspeakably at the hands of this predator who, day and night, raped and tortured them in an inhospitable setting.

After six agonizing weeks, Duncan double-shot little Dylan to death at point-blank range, shooting him once in the head and in the stomach with a .12-gauge shotgun. And when he was going to kill Shasta, she managed to convince him to let her go free of her. Her pleas calling him by her first name had an effect and the killer took her back home.

After stopping at a restaurant near Cour d'Alene and before handing her over to the authorities, the local security cameras captured the image of the adult and the little girl. In fact, some customers recognized Shasta as the missing girl weeks ago and called the police.

Immediately, several patrol cars arrived at the Denny's with the lights off to prevent a getaway while employees blocked all exits. Seconds later, several officers shackled Duncan, who put up no resistance. Once at the police station, the detainee confessed to the place where he had buried Dylan's body and investigators recovered his remains from the Lolo National Forest.

Later that same year, Joseph Edward Duncan III was convicted of the Groene family kidnappings and murders and sentenced to three life sentences without the possibility of parole, three death sentences, and three other life sentences for the kidnapping of Shasta and Dylan, and Dylan's murder.

During the court hearing, the survivor did not get on the stand to avoid her revictimization and that the defendant had the "privilege" of "being able to see her one more time." Instead of her testimony in court, video and audio recordings of interviews with police were used, as well as what was recorded when the little girl returned to the Montana crime scene with investigators.

For his part, Duncan showed no emotion throughout the litigation, not even after hearing the verdict of life imprisonment and capital punishment. So much so that when the magistrate asked the prisoner if he wanted to exercise his right to the last word, he paused and simply said: “I have thought a lot about what he would say. I have nothing to say".

After this trial about "one of the worst tragedies Idaho has ever seen," described the Kootenai County Sheriff, Duncan was extradited to Southern California to stand trial for the murder of little Anthony. The prisoner had also confessed to this crime, like that of the Seattle girls.

Although the court sentenced the murderous blogger to two more life sentences, justice inexplicably never brought the murders of Sammie Jo White and Carmen Cubias to trial, and Duncan was never prosecuted for them. The explanation: the prisoner was already facing multiple death sentences.

On March 28, 2021, Duncan III died of a glioblastoma diagnosed five months earlier, for which he never wanted any medical treatment. He was 58 years old. A few hours later, Shasta Groene issued a heartfelt statement in which she conveyed some relief after the death of the cause of her childhood trauma.

“For a long time I have been struggling with hatred for that man. Today I woke up feeling like my soul was finally free. I hope others affected by Joseph Duncan have been able to wake up feeling the same way,” he wrote.