What happened to Groene Family? People Magazine Investigates to revisit massacre

Shasta Groene with her father, Steve Groene (Image via KOOTENAI COUNTY SHERIFF DEPT)
Shasta Groene with her father, Steve Groene (Image via KOOTENAI COUNTY SHERIFF DEPT)

People Magazine Investigates is all set to revisit one of the most gruesome cases in the history of the small town of Idaho, where the Groene family was brutally massacred.

On May 16, 2005, the authorities discovered the bodies of 40-year-old Brenda Groene, her boyfriend Mark McKenzie, and her oldest son Slade Groene, who was 13 at the time, tied and beaten to death with a hammer in their Idaho home.

Duncan assaulted both the kids and murdered Dylan. He was caught several weeks later in a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene when he stepped out with Shasta Groene.

The upcoming episode of People Magazine Investigates reads:

A savage killer goes on a homicidal rampage and then abducts two young siblings from their home in the middle of the night; the children quickly decide they will do whatever is necessary to survive.

What happened to the Groene family, and who did it?

Joseph Duncan allegedly staked out the Groene family for days before breaking in using night vision goggles. He reportedly tied up Brenda Groene, 40, her boyfriend Mark McKenzie, 37, and her son, Slade Groene, 13, before bludgeoning them to death with a hammer. He kidnapped the two younger children, Shasta (8) and Dylan (9), and took them from campsite to campsite, evading police.

Joseph Duncan moved with the two children over the next two months. He allegedly assaulted both the children and eventually killed Dylan. The police noticed the missing children and reportedly searched for the two kids.

Duncan was finally spotted in a local Denny's in Coeur d’Alene with the 8-year-old Shasta, the only survivor of the brutal Groene family massacre. After employees and customers of the joint identified the child and the perpetrator, they called the police.

The police arrested Duncan, who later confessed to his crimes and pleaded guilty in court. The Kootenai County Sheriff´s Office in Idaho released a statement saying:

"In May of 2005, the Groene Family of Kootenai County, living in the Wolf Lodge Bay area, was brutally victimized by a serial killer passing through our community. The family was stalked, attacked and tortured...It was one of the worst tragedies Idaho has ever seen."

According to sources, Joseph Duncan III was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder. He was also prosecuted for his crimes against the children. He also confessed to other crimes apart from the Groene family, including the murder of ten-year-old Anthony Martinez, in Beaumont, California.

He died of terminal brain cancer while in custody on death row at Terra Haute Federal Correctional Institution in 2021. This was when his lawyers were trying to get a plea deal for the serial killer.

Where is the survivor of the massacre now?

Shasta Groene, the only survivor of the massacre, is now in her mid-20s. Ten years after the incident, Shasta was engaged and pregnant, trying to move on from the brutal crime and the haunting memories.

After Duncan's death, Shasta released a statement, saying:

"One thing is for sure, he does not exist anymore. Now, we can live our lives knowing that. For so long I have been struggling with hate towards that man. Today, I woke up feeling like my soul was finally free."

Shasta has been hiding on and off from all the media coverage that has followed her since the incident.

Each hour-long episode of People Magazine Investigates is shot via the lens of PEOPLE's famous reporters, transporting viewers to the front lines of America's most riveting and astonishing crimes. It unveils stunning turns and intriguing new revelations through rare interviews, archive material, and first-hand experiences from survivors.

The upcoming episode of People Magazine Investigates, dealing with the Groene family massacre, will air on June 6, 2022, on Investigation Discovery.

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Edited by Suchitra