Federal death row inmate dies of cancer

March 30 (UPI) -- A man convicted of killing five people across three states and sentenced to death for one of the murders has died, California prosecutors announced.

Joseph Edward Duncan, 58, died Sunday at a hospital near the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. He had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.


He was on federal death row for murdering 9-year-old Dylan Groene, whom he kidnapped in Idaho and transported across state lines to Montana.

In 2005, Duncan killed three family members -- Brenda Groene, Slade Groene and Mark McKenzie -- in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, before kidnapping two children from the family home. He took Dylan and his 8-year-old sister, Shasta Groene, to Montana, where he tortured them both and killed the boy.

Shasta survived and was rescued after Duncan took her to a restaurant in Idaho and she was recognized.

After his sentencing in Idaho, Duncan was extradited to California, where he stood trial for the 1997 murder of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez. DNA connected him to the slaying and he pleaded guilty to the crime.


Anthony disappeared while he was playing with other boys near his home in Beaumont. Investigators said Duncan used a lost cat as a ruse to get the boys to separate, abducted Anthony and tortured and killed him in an isolated canyon in Joshua Tree National Monument where his body was found 10 days later.

Anthony's mother, Diana, said her "soul is lighter" upon learning of Duncan's death.

"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."

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