Joseph Edward Duncan III
Earlier on Sunday, May 15, according to a report that appeared in The Spokesman-Review, before the family had left for Coeur d'Alene to go to the barbecue, a neighbor who lived nearby hired 13-year-old Slade Groene to mow the grass by his driveway. However, he didn't have the correct change to pay Slade the agreed-upon $10 for his work when he was finished but assured the teenager that he would stop by his house and pay him the following day.
When the neighbor showed up with the money on Monday, the house appeared eerily quiet. The neighbor honked his horn, but nobody came outside as they normally would have done when someone pulled into their driveway. Similarly, there was no response when he knocked on the door, and there were no lights visible inside the house. Only a dog barked from inside. The neighbor noticed that both of the family's cars were parked in their usual places, but the car doors had been left open. Suspicious, the neighbor rushed home and called 911. It was the second time in roughly 24 hours that the neighbor had felt compelled to call the sheriff's department. The first call had been made to report a suspicious white pickup truck that had been parked near his barn and had apparently been abandoned.
When deputies from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department arrived at the small Frontage Road home at 6:15 p.m., everything appeared just as the neighbor had reported. After easily gaining entry to the home through a rear door to check on the residents' welfare, the deputies were aghast at the carnage they found inside.
The perpetrator's point of entry appeared to have been a rear door that led into the kitchen which had been left unlocked. There was blood everywhere, much of which was in puddles around two bodies that were sprawled on the floor. Both victims had been bound with duct tape and zip ties. The injuries appeared to have been centered around the head and face of each of the victims, obviously a young man or teenage boy and a middle-aged woman. It was difficult to determine upon initial examination whether the injuries were the result of blunt trauma or gunshot wounds. Blood spatters, the telltale signs of either mode of death, were everywhere and it would take a careful crime scene analysis to conclusively determine whether they had been beaten or shot, or both. The acrid smell of the congealed blood had become strong, and the sight and smell brought on a nauseous feeling to some of the less seasoned deputies.
As the deputies made their way through the house they encountered a third victim, also bound with duct tape and zip ties, in the living room. There was also a significant amount of blood connected with the third victim and it appeared that he, too, had died as a result of either a gunshot wound or blunt trauma to the head. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that each of the victims died horribly.
As they reported their findings, the deputies believed that the victims in the kitchen were Brenda Groene and her 13-year-old son, Slade, and that the victim in the living room was Brenda's boyfriend, Mark McKenzie.
There was no sign of eight-year-old Shasta Groene and her nine-year-old brother Dylan.
The deputies sealed off the house without removing or making positive identification of the bodies, and they closed off Frontage Road in the vicinity of the house and designated it as a crime scene. They posted sentries to stand guard throughout the night, and would return at first light with crime scene technicians and homicide investigators.