Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joseph Edward Duncan III

On the Move

Joseph Edward Duncan III
Joseph Edward Duncan III

As best as police have been able to determine, Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42-years-old, fled Becker County, Minnesota almost immediately after someone posted his $15,000 bond following an April 5, 2005 court hearing where he had been charged with sexually molesting a six-year-old boy and for attempting to molest the boy's friend. After being released from custody, he apparently began making his travel plans. He stopped by a Wal-Mart and purchased night vision goggles and a video camcorder. At some point he also obtained a shotgun, shells, and a claw hammer.

Ten days later, on April 15, 2005 he rented a 2005 red Jeep Grand Cherokee in St. Paul, Minnesota. However, he never returned the vehicle at the termination of the rental agreement, and the Jeep was eventually reported to police as a stolen vehicle on May 4, 2005. Police would later learn that between the time the Jeep was rented and reported stolen, Duncan had traveled through parts of Missouri and had gone as far south as Newton County, located in the far southwestern corner of the state in an area that borders Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. It was there, on April 27, 2005, a little more than a week before the vehicle would be reported stolen to police in Minnesota, that he allegedly stole a set of license plates off of a vehicle and placed them on the Jeep that he was driving. It would later become clear to the police that he was fully capable of carefully planning his every move, as most sexual predators are, and had done so in this instance by disguising the vehicle that he was driving even before it had become necessary to do so. It must have been shortly after he had stolen the license plates in Missouri that he had made the decision to go to Idaho.

A red Jeep Cherokee
A red Jeep Cherokee

Satisfied that he had given the authorities the slip, it is believed that Duncan headed north again, the exact route of which he had taken being unknown, until he connected up with Interstate 90 at some point, most likely either in South Dakota or Wyoming, and headed west toward Idaho. While it is not precisely known when Duncan arrived in Idaho, it was while he was en route to that state that an arrest warrant was issued for him in Fargo, North Dakota for failing to properly follow the conditions of his April 5 release and for missing a subsequent court date. No one apparently paid any mind to the sex offender driving the stolen Jeep with the stolen Missouri plates as he made his way west.  But then, why would anyone? He was being careful in his cold and calculated planning, and had given little reason for anyone to pay any attention to him.

 

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