A woman who was imprisoned, tortured, and abused by the ‘night-vision’ serial killer for seven weeks as a child – after he brutally murdered her whole family – is now speaking out about the horrific ordeal.
Shasta Groene, now 25, was eight years old when Joseph Duncan III, who was 42 at the time, broke into her home and killed her mother, Brenda Groene, 40, her stepfather, Mark McKenzie, 37, and her brother, Slade Groene, who was just 13.
He kidnapped Shasta and her then-nine-year-old brother, Dylan, and held them captive for nearly two months while he sexually and physically assaulted them, before ultimately shooting and killing Dylan in front of Shasta.
Shasta was eventually rescued after Duncan took her to a restaurant and was spotted by customers and employees, who called the police and stopped him from leaving.
A woman who was imprisoned and tortured by a serial killer as a child – after he murdered her family – is now speaking out about the horrific ordeal. She is pictured as a kid with her father
Shasta Groene, now 25, was eight years old when Joseph Duncan III (pictured in 2008), who was 42 at the time, broke into her home and killed her mother, stepfather, and brother
He kidnapped Shasta and her then-nine-year-old brother, Dylan (pictured), and held them captive for nearly two months while he sexually and physically assaulted them
Now, Shasta is opening up about the traumatic experience in a new episode of People Magazine Investigates, which airs on Investigation Discovery and Discovery+
Now, she is opening up about the traumatic experience in a new episode of People Magazine Investigates, which airs on Investigation Discovery and Discovery+.
He later tragically killed Dylan (pictured) by shooting him in the head at point-blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun in front of Shasta
On May 15, 2005, Shasta said she thought she saw someone hiding in her bedroom closet while she was trying to fall asleep in her Wolf Lodge, Idaho, home.
After being comforted by her brother, she fell asleep, assuming she had imagined it. However, hours later, she was woken by her mother – who was in tears. She told her, ‘Someone’s in the house.’
She recalled in the show, ‘My mother was crying. She’s like, “[Shasta], you need to wake up. Someone’s in the house.”‘
She then said she found her stepfather and her brother laying face down on the floor of the family living room with zip ties around their wrists and ankles, as well as duct tape covering their mouths.
A man, who wore all black and night-vision goggles, stood in the room holding a shotgun.
Shasta said she was woken by her mom (left) in May 2005, to find her stepfather (right) and her brother laying face down with zip ties around their wrists and ankles
Shasta (pictured as a kid) said she thought she saw someone hiding in her bedroom closet before she fell asleep, but was comforted by her brother and assumed she had imagined it
However, hours later, she was woken in the middle of the night by her mother, Brenda (pictured) – who was in tears and told her, ‘Someone’s in the house’
Shasta (pictured as a kid) then discovered a man who wore all black and night-vision goggles in the house with a shotgun
After tying up Shasta and Dylan and carrying them outside to his car, he beat her mother, stepfather, and other brother to death with a hammer.
‘I heard thumping and a grunt in pain. I didn’t know what was going on,’ she said in the show.
He then took the two kids to a campsite in Lolo National Forest near St. Regis, Montana, where they stayed for weeks.
He eventually killed Dylan by shooting him in the head at point-blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun.
‘I honestly have no idea what gave me strength or hope,’ she told Fox News Digital recently.
‘But there was something inside of me that was pushing me to say or do certain things to be on Joseph’s good side and earn his trust.
‘I believe that was my mom’s spirit guiding me. She wanted me to get out safe and alive.
‘I felt like I was getting help from her spiritually. But there were times when I really thought, “How long am I going to be alive?”‘
Shasta was eventually rescued on July 2, 2005, after people inside a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s diner noticed her, alerted the authorities, and positioned themselves in front of Joseph so he couldn’t leave.
Shasta said that Joseph took her to the restaurant after she earned his trust by ‘manipulating him’ and making him feel like she ‘didn’t want to leave his side.’
‘I would tell him that I wanted to show him all the places I grew up in, where I went to school because I loved school, where I used to hang out, basically show him my life because I had no family,’ she told Fox.
‘That made him feel good because he felt that I trusted him. He felt that he was learning about my life and getting to know a vulnerable part of me. I was just trying to manipulate him.
‘[When we got to the Denny’s] I looked up and saw this guy. He looked at me, and I nodded my head. He nodded back.
‘I can tell from his eyes that he knew who I was. I was trying to tell him through my eyes, that it was me.’
He beat her mom, stepfather, and older brother (pictured) to death with a hammer, and kidnapped her and Dylan
She recalled hearing ‘thumping and a grunt in pain,’ but said she ‘didn’t know what was going on.’ Her late stepfather, Mark McKenzie, is pictured before his death
He took the two kids to a campsite in Lolo National Forest near St. Regis, Montana (pictured), where they stayed for weeks, before he fatally shot Dylan
The man alerted a waitress who called the police. Shasta continued, ‘The officer walked up behind her toward our table. He asked me who I was. I told him that my name was Katie.
‘Joseph told me, “It’s OK, you can tell him.” That’s when I said, “My name is Shasta.” The cop then grabbed Joseph and handcuffed him right away.’
After that, Joseph took Shasta back to Idaho, where she was eventually rescued on July 2, 2005. She is seen on a store surveillance camera with Joseph
‘I remember feeling safe, but at the same time, I was sad about my family, and so focused on, “Where is my oldest brother, where’s my dad?” Stuff like that,’ she previously recalled of being rescued in a 2015 interview with KTVB.
‘I was happy to be in a safe place, but there was still that part of me that was like, “What if that happens again?”‘
Afterwards, Shasta went to live with her biological father. She took a year off of school, and tried her best to get back to normal while a slew of reporters and cameras followed her every move.
She went to therapy, but said she suffered from an eating disorder and self harmed as she struggled to come to terms with what had happened to her.
Before the tragic incident, Shasta said she was really close with her brothers, and that she ‘always wanted to be with them’ – which made it even harder for her to adjust to her new life without them.
‘I had my brothers with me all the time,’ she said to Fox. ‘And that’s exactly how I wanted it to be. I always wanted to be with them. I was the youngest and the only girl.
‘I was the little sister my brothers protected. And my mom made sure that the family was always together.
‘It felt weird being in a house with my dad and his girlfriend with none of my brothers.
‘I was just so alone. He was a truck driver, so it was very seldom that we saw him. But that’s how he paid the bills.
‘I also became really sensitive about my weight and the things that I ate. I think it was a way to punish myself. I developed an eating disorder at a very young age.
‘If I ate, I made myself throw up. I then started self-harming. I was hiding a lot from my dad.
‘And then he got throat cancer. He almost died from it. So much has happened that I never fully got to heal.’
She also said she suffered from severe ‘guilt’ since she survived and her brother Dylan didn’t, especially because she had promised him that they would both ‘get out alive.’
‘I had promised my brother [Dylan] that I would make sure that we got out alive. I carried so much guilt because he didn’t live, and I did,’ she said.
‘I felt like it should have been the other way around. I handled all of that in very unhealthy ways.
‘I started drinking at age 13, smoking marijuana and hanging out with older people. I was trying to numb everything. And there was a possibility that my dad might die. I didn’t know what to do.’
Joseph was convicted and sentenced to death in 2008 and, after his arrest, DNA evidence linked him to the April 1997 killing of ten-year-old Anthony Martinez from Beaumont, California – which he later admitted to.
He was also linked to the killings of two young girls in Seattle in the 1990s, and was also accused of molesting a young boy on a playground in Minnesota in 2005.
Shasta (pictured as an adult) was rescued after he took her to a restaurant and was spotted by customers and employees, who called the police and stopped him from leaving
‘I was happy to be in a safe place, but there was still that part of me that was like, “What if that happens again?”‘ Shasta (pictured as an adult) previously recalled of being rescued
Joseph (pictured in 2011) was convicted and sentenced to death in 2008. He died of brain cancer in March 2021
Joseph, a registered sex offender, later told a therapist that he estimated he had raped 13 younger boys by the time he was 16.
According to the investigation, he had spotted the Groene family while driving across the Idaho Panhandle on Interstate 90.
After his arrest, DNA evidence linked him to the April 1997 killing of ten-year-old Anthony Martinez (pictured) from Beaumont, California – which he later admitted to
He said he noticed Shasta and Dylan playing in their swimsuits in the yard of their home, which was next to the freeway, and began doing surveillance on them.
In March 2021, Joseph passed away from terminal brain cancer at a hospital in Terra Haute, Idaho, near the federal prison where he was serving his sentence on federal death row – and Shasta said her soul was ‘finally free’ following his death.
‘One thing is for sure, he does not exist anymore. Now, we can live our lives knowing that,’ she said in a statement at the time.
‘For so long I have been struggling with hate towards that man. Today, I woke up feeling like my soul was finally free.
‘I hope other people affected by Joseph Duncan were able to wake up feeling the same way.’
The Kootenai County Sheriff´s Office in Idaho, which conducted the investigation, also released a statement.
‘In May of 2005, the Groene Family of Kootenai County, living in the Wolf Lodge Bay area, was brutally victimized by a serial killer passing through our community. The family was stalked, attacked and tortured,’ they wrote. ‘It was one of the worst tragedies Idaho has ever seen.’
Shasta now lives with her husband, Michael, and their four sons. She is currently expecting their fifth child – another boy – who is due in August. She is pictured with one of her kids in 2016
After Joseph’s death she said in a statement, ‘My soul is lighter. The world is a more beautiful place without the evil that is Joseph Duncan.’ He is pictured in 2011
Diana Martinez, Anthony’s mother, said after his death: ‘The sun is a little brighter today.’
‘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.’
‘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,’ Anthony Martinez’s father, Ernesto, added.
Now, Shasta lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, Michael, and their four sons, all of whom are under the age of six. She is currently expecting their fifth child – another boy – who is due in August.
She works as the supervising housekeeper at a nearby hotel. She is sharing her story now in the hopes of helping other victims who might be struggling.
‘You’re not your past,’ she said in the series. ‘Every day is a new chapter.’
For a long time, Shasta told Fox that she didn’t feel ‘confident enough’ to speak out, but now, she is in a ‘really good head space.’
‘For a long time, I wasn’t in a place where I felt confident enough to speak out. I wasn’t ready,’ she admitted.
‘But by the time we began filming, I was in a really good head space. Joseph had passed away, and it almost felt like a new start for me. I felt like I suddenly woke up and said, “I want to help others with my story.”
‘There were so many times in my life where I gave up on certain things. Looking back on them today, I wish I never did.
‘I’d probably be a lot further in my life than I am now, even though I am far… But I didn’t know how to heal.
‘I didn’t know how to grieve. I do think it’s important to start the grieving and healing process.
‘Otherwise, you’ll just keep living your life, not realizing that there are parts of you that are falling behind. It’s OK to struggle in your life, but it’s the resiliency that matters.’