‘The sun is a little brighter today’: Serial killer Joseph Duncan is dead

Judge upholds two death sentences for Joseph Edward Duncan III
Joseph Duncan, shown here in 2005, is awaiting a federal death sentence

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Nearly 16 years after he terrorized North Idaho and murdered several members of a Coeur d’Alene family, convicted killer Joseph Duncan is dead.

Duncan’s attorneys disclosed late last year that he had terminal brain cancer and did not have much longer to live.

He died at just after 2:30 am pacific time at a hospital in Indiana. He was on federal death row at a prison in Terre Haute.

He was convicted of killing Brenda Groene, Slade Groene, Dylan Groene and Mark McKenzie; he murdered the family in order to kidnap Dylan and his sister Shasta. He held the children captive for several weeks in Montana before returning Shasta to a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s.

After his arrest, DNA linked him to the murder of 10-year old Anthony Martinez in California. Martinez was murdered in 1997 while Duncan was on parole for a rape charge in Washington. He was kidnapped while playing outside of his home, his body was found 15 days later. It wasn’t until after Duncan’s arrest in Idaho that he was linked to the crime.

He’s also been linked to the murders of two young girls in Seattle in the 1990s.

After his release from prison, he moved to Fargo and was attending college. Shortly before graduating in 2005, he was accused of molesting a young boy on a playground in Minnesota. He posted a low bail and skipped town. He was driving to Washington where his family lived when he said he spotted the Groene children playing outside their home along Interstate 90. He hatched a scheme then to kidnap the children, buying night vision goggles and stalking the family.

He videotaped many of his horrific crimes against the Groene children. One veteran investigator said the video “shook him to his core.”

Duncan said early on that he would not appeal his death sentence, but an appeal in his case has been going forward.

“The sun is a little brighter today,” said Anthony Martinez’s mother, Diana. “My soul is lighter. 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.”

Anthony would have been 34.

Anthony’s father Ernesto said “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 is the real justice.”

“God has brought pure justice for all those Joseph Duncan has hurt,” said Anthony’s younger brother Marcos. “There is less evil in the world. Nothing can bring my brother back, but now Duncan can never hurt anyone 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.”

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