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Sex offender charged in Idaho killings

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Joseph Duncan appears last week before First District Magistrate Judge Scott Wayman via video.

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Idaho
Montana
Crime, Law and Justice
Murders

(CNN) -- A convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing two young Idaho children was charged Tuesday with three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of their mother, older brother and their mother's boyfriend.

Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, was also charged with three counts of first-degree kidnapping for seizing and confining the three. They were found tied up and beaten to death in their Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, home in May.

Duncan will make his first court appearance on the murder charges Wednesday at the Kootenai County Jail, according to prosecutor Bill Douglas.

Prosecutors will ask that he be held without bond.

The murder charges against Duncan include aggravating factors that could bring the death penalty, Douglas told CNN Monday.

Duncan will not be charged in Idaho with the murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene. Such charges will instead fall under the jurisdiction of Montana prosecutors, Douglas said.

The boy's remains were found July 4 in the Lolo National Forest in western Montana, two days after his 8-year-old sister, Shasta, was found alive with Duncan at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.

It had been seven weeks since the children vanished.

Douglas announced Tuesday that his office would drop state kidnapping charges filed against Duncan for the abductions of the Groene children. The move would clear the way for federal prosecutors to pursue kidnapping charges once the state's prosecution is complete.

Federal jurisdiction applies because the children were taken across state lines, Duncan said in his statement.

On May 16 authorities found the bodies of the children's mother, Brenda Groene; their older brother, Slade; and the mother's boyfriend, Mark McKenzie.

The gruesome discovery set off a nationwide search for the two younger children.

That search ended July 2 with Duncan's arrest, after a restaurant customer recognized the girl and called police.

An investigative document filed in the case revealed that Shasta Groene later told police she saw Duncan tie up her family members on the day they were killed.

The statement did not say whether she witnessed their brutal deaths.

Groene also told investigators that Duncan had sexually assaulted her and her brother, according to the document.

Duncan was just 16 in 1980 when he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint in Washington state. After completing his prison term in 2000, he moved to Fargo, North Dakota.

Earlier this year he was charged with child molestation and attempted child molestation in Minnesota. After being released on bond, he fled and remained a fugitive until he was found in Groene's company.

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