July 2, 2005

Police find missing Idaho girl, arrest sex offender

By William Stimson

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (Reuters) - An 8-year-old girl whodisappeared with her brother six weeks ago after her family wasmurdered was found on Saturday with a registered sex offenderat a restaurant near her home in Idaho, police said.

Police said Shasta Groene's 9-year-old brother Dylanremained missing but initial information has led them tobelieve he was dead.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said policefound Shasta at a Denny's restaurant eating breakfast withJoseph Duncan III in the northern Idaho town of Coeur D'Alene,near the same town from which she disappeared.

Wolfinger said authorities have arrested Duncan, 42, inconnection with the girl's May 16 disappearance and charged himwith kidnapping. Duncan was being held without bond and policesaid more charges could follow.

Wolfinger said Shasta was in generally good health whenfound and that investigators were still interviewing her. Hesaid authorities did not know whether Duncan had remained inthe area after the children went missing.

"She was in a restaurant eating a meal," Wolfinger toldreporters at a news conference broadcast on television."Obviously she was in good enough shape to do that."

Authorities said Denny's staff recognized her fromphotographs around 2 a.m. on Saturday and called police.

Police gave few details about Duncan but said his lastknown address was in North Dakota and that he was a registeredsex offender who ran a Web site advocating the non-prosecutionof child molesters.

They also said Duncan had a history of rape dating back to1980 when he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy inWashington state. Last year Duncan was accused of molesting ayoung boy at a school playground in Minnesota, police said.

Wolfinger said police would investigate whether Duncan hadany part in the triple murders in May in the Northern Idahotown located near the Washington border. He is expected toappear before a judge on Tuesday.

"He is certainly going to be looked at in this heinouspackage of crimes," Wolfinger said.

The restaurant where Shasta was found is about a 45-minutedrive from the home where her mother, older brother, and afamily friend were all found beaten to death on May 16.