Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joseph Edward Duncan III

Shasta's Statement

According to the details that Shasta recounted to Kootenai County Detective Dan Mattos, contained in court records from a probable cause hearing held on Tuesday, July 5, 2005, Shasta was asleep in her bedroom the night that her family was killed. Her mother came into her room, woke her up, and led her into the living room where she first saw Duncan. According to court records, Duncan carried Shasta and her brother outside and placed them inside a pickup truck and drove them to a location where he had parked the red Jeep Cherokee. He then placed the children inside the Jeep and drove them to a campsite deep in the forests of western Montana. Over the next several weeks, according to Shasta, he repeatedly raped and sexually abused both of the children. She told Mattos that Duncan had acted alone. She also said that she had called Duncan "Jet," a nickname of his own device, Joseph Edward the Third.

According to a report in USA Today, Shasta recalled vividly the smallest details of the night that her family was killed and she and her brother abducted. Shasta told the investigators that Duncan wore dark gloves inside the house, and carried a shoulder-style weapon, such as a shotgun. During a search of the stolen Jeep, investigators found dark gloves, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a red shotgun shell. She even recalled the brand name of the claw hammer that Duncan allegedly used to kill her family, a FatMax. Although Shasta said that she and her brother had not witnessed the actual murders, she explained how Duncan had showed her and her brother the FatMax hammer and how he told them that he had used it to kill her family.

According to Kootenai County Sheriff's Detective Brad Maskell, investigators purchased a FatMax brand hammer and were able to match the tool markings on it to the wounds on victims' skulls.

Shasta also explained to the investigators how Duncan had said that he used the night vision goggles to watch the Groene-McKenzie home for two or three nights prior to the murders and abductions. Police also found night vision goggles in the stolen Jeep.

Shasta also stated that Duncan had told her sordid details of how he had sexually molested her brother. He had even tortured him, burning him with cigarettes.

Based on Shasta's statements, investigators were able to locate the remote Montana campsite where Duncan had allegedly held Shasta and her brother captive. A short time later, authorities sadly announced that they believed they had found Dylan's remains off of a remote Forest Service road in Montana's Bitterroot Mountains. A week later, forensic DNA testing confirmed that the remains were indeed Dylan's. The authorities announced that he had been shot to death and that his body had been burned.

It was also revealed by the Pacific Northwest Inlander, a free weekly newspaper published in Spokane, Washington, that a video camcorder was recovered from the stolen Jeep. The camcorder contained video of Duncan abusing Shasta and Dylan, as well as threatening to kill them. Shasta told investigators that Duncan had showed her some of the digital pictures. Prosecutors successfully argued that the videos should not be copied for the defense out of fear that during the process they could fall into the wrong hands and get leaked to the public and make their way onto the Internet. Prosecutors indicated that Duncan may also be charged with production of child pornography, but it was not clear whether those charges, if they materialize, would be the result of the digital videos taken of himself, Shasta and Dylan, or if those charges would be unrelated to the Groene case.

 

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