July 3, 2005

Idaho boy feared dead as police continue search

SPOKANE, Wash. (Reuters) - Mounting evidence indicates amissing 9-year-old boy is dead, authorities said on Sunday, aday after his 8-year-old sister was found with a registered sexoffender in Idaho.

As more than 40 local police and FBI searched for DylanGroene, Joseph Duncan III, 42, the man accused of kidnappinghis sister, refused to cooperate with authorities.

Dylan and his sister, Shasta, disappeared six weeks agoafter their mother, older brother and a family friend werediscovered beaten to death in their home near Coeur D'Alene,Idaho.

Shasta was found early Saturday eating breakfast withDuncan in a Denny's restaurant in Coeur D'Alene.

Police said initial information led them to believe thatDylan is dead.

"I'd be more than happy to stand up here and say it was thebiggest mistake we ever made but unfortunately I don't thinkwe're going to have to do that," Kootenai County Sheriff'sCapt. Ben Wolfinger told reporters.

"The goal is to find Dylan, one way or another," Wolfingersaid.

Duncan has been charged with the girl's kidnapping andprosecutors probably will file more charges this week,Wolfinger said. Duncan also will be investigated in connectionwith the May 16 slayings at the Groene home.

Duncan, whose last known address was in North Dakota, ran aWeb site urging that child molesters not be prosecuted. He wasconvicted of raping a 14-year-old boy in Washington state in1980 and last year was accused of molesting a boy at a schoolplayground in Minnesota.

Shasta was in a hospital on Sunday with her father, who "isvery happy that his daughter's back and saddened that Dylan maybe dead," Wolfinger said.

Police said they still have not uncovered a clear linkbetween the Groene family and Duncan.