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Serial killer on death row for murders in Idaho and Montana dies from cancer

Joseph E. Duncan III
Posted at 5:13 PM, Mar 28, 2021

A convicted serial killer who tortured and killed a North Idaho family and kidnapped two children to Western Montana died at a hospital outside federal death row in Indiana.

Joseph Edward Duncan, 58, died from terminal brain cancer Sunday according to a press release from the Riverside County, California county attorney.

Duncan had been awaiting his execution at a Terra Haute, Indiana federal prison after being convicted by an Idaho jury in 2008.

Duncan was sentenced for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of three members of the Groene family at their Coeur d'Alene, Idaho home in 2005.

Duncan then abducted 9-year-old Dylan and his 8-year-old sister Shasta Groene and took them to a remote campsite near St. Regis where he tortured and sexually assaulted the two children before shooting Dylan to death and burning his body.

Two weeks later, Duncan and Shasta were noticed by a waitress at a Denny's in Coeur d'Alene where Duncan was taken into custody.

Following that conviction and death sentence, Duncan was returned to Riverside County for the murder of Anthony Martinez. In April 2011, Duncan pled guilty to Anthony’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

“The sun is brighter today, and my soul is lighter,” Anthony’s mother, Diana, said. “The world is a more beautiful place without the evil that is Joseph Duncan. God chose to make his end a long suffering and I believe that is fitting. The horror of his thoughts consumed him.”

“While I would’ve liked to witness his execution, knowing he is now standing before God being held accountable for what he has done, what he did to my son, and the horrible crimes he committed to others, that’s the real justice," Anthony’s father Ernesto said.

“God has brought pure justice for all those Joseph Duncan has hurt. There is less evil in this world. Nothing can bring my brother back, but now Duncan can never hurt anyone ever again. Because of him, I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to fight against any evil left in the world," Anthony’s younger brother Marcos said.

Anthony was playing in a neighbor’s yard in Beaumont with his younger brother and some friends when he was abducted by Duncan on April 4, 1997. Duncan first tried to grab Anthony’s brother, but he freed himself. As Anthony intervened, Duncan grabbed him, held a knife to his head, and forced him into a car and drove away.

An extensive search for Anthony was conducted by numerous local, state, and federal agencies. Over the next two weeks, about 6,000 leads about the abduction and Anthony’s disappearance were received and investigated.

On April 19, 1997, a park ranger found Anthony’s body among rocks in Berdoo Canyon about two miles north of Dillion Road in the Indio Hills area.