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Idaho suspect's blog details 'demons'

Journal: 'My intent is to harm society as much as I can, then die'

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Crime, Law and Justice
Sex Crimes

(CNN) -- "Right now the only thing I'm sure about is that I'm sure about nothing. It is not a good position to be in considering my circumstances (being a felony fugitive and all)."

Those are the last words Joe Duncan wrote on his Web log, or blog, posted late in the afternoon on May 13.

That was three days before a triple homicide in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and seven weeks before Duncan was charged with kidnapping 8-year-old Shasta Groene, who along with her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, had vanished by the time authorities arrived at the scene May 16.

Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, was found with Shasta early Saturday at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene -- just a few miles from the Groene home where the killings took place and nearly 1,000 miles from Duncan's last listed address in Fargo, North Dakota. Dylan is still missing and feared dead. (Full story)

From his first entry, on January 4, 2004, to his last, on May 13, 2005, Duncan's writings reveal a conflicted man battling personal "demons" and the stigma of a teenage rape conviction.

In 1980, at age 16, Duncan received a 20-year sentence for raping a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint in Washington state.

When he was released from prison in 2000, he enrolled at North Dakota State University in Fargo, where he was registered as a sex offender. He also was registered in Washington

He was charged in March with child molestation for an incident the previous July in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota --- about 45 miles east of Fargo.

'I actually thought it was normal'

Throughout the 17 months he kept his blog, Duncan displays intense concern for himself whenever a child is reported missing, fearing police will automatically come calling because he is on the offender registry.

In fact, his first entry finds him trying to reconstruct what he did on a particular day in the past because he just learned a 5-year-old girl had gone missing 200 miles away on that day.

On the following day, he wrote a lengthy piece about his experience in an experimental treatment program in which he spent the first two years of his sentence in Washington. It was a failure, he wrote.

The post also introduced a theme common in his writings: that offenders "are victims, too" and that they often don't understand that they've hurt someone.

In his own history, he wrote, "I was molested so often and by so many different people that, up until the time of my offense, I actually thought it was normal and that everybody did it."

Although he denied he is a pedophile, Duncan defended pedophilia.

"I learned that most people who prey on children have discovered that adult-child sexual relations are not in and of itself a bad thing, and does not in and of itself cause harm to the child (assuming no physical injury has been inflicted)," he wrote.

"You may scoff at this saying of course they think that, that is what makes them sick. But, by scoffing, you are only perpetuating the problem by rejecting a rational [sic] that is based on solid fact."

Sometimes Duncan wrote about mundane daily experiences -- his first skiing trip or his cats. Sometimes he wrote philosophically about God and free will, or truth and forgiveness.

He also wrote about his dreams -- frequently dreams of being back in prison, almost all of those centering in some way on "lack of companionship."

Instant suspect

The bulk of his posts relate in some way to his experience as a sex offender -- a title he rejected for himself. He particularly resented the Fargo Police Department's frequent address checks of those on the list.

Duncan was a suspect early on in the Detroit Lakes case, and police raided his apartment in late August, although he wasn't charged until the following March. The search bothered him, and he began to lose sleep.

"A sex offender driving a red car committed a crime, I'm a sex offender and I drive a red car, it does not matter I live about 60 miles from the crime and even in a different state," he wrote.

In September, Duncan's posts shrunk to only one, a cryptic paragraph in which he wrote he was home with "nothing to do, everything being undone."

"Nobody to remind me. Life is about giving your choices over to God. Chicken pot pie in the oven. Why can others not see the unity of the universe. Why are they so blind in their dungeons."

Duncan wrote three posts in October, but none in November. The posts increased in December, with most about justice, personal responsibility and criminals as victims of corrupt morals in society. He also railed against capital punishment.

Unraveling

On April 5, Duncan appeared in court in Detroit Lakes and was released on bond. But there were no more posts until April 10 -- and none at all about the court appearance.

Five days later, he wrote: "So, I've been accused of molesting a little boy. Those close to me know I didn't do it of course, how could I, I'm not even a pedophile."

"Well, I'm not a psychopath either, I feel the full force and pain of everyone I have ever hurt, but that doesn't stop me from doing what I need to do," he continued. "Ultimately my feelings don't matter, I learned that in prison. I have to carry out my orders or a lot worse than just me dying could happen."

In another nine days, Duncan appears even more unhinged.

"I am still alive," he wrote. "I honestly wish not."

In this post, he disclosed a battle "of epic proportions ... between me and my demons," adding that only two other people "have a clue as to the power and nature of my demons" and that he is afraid and praying for strength to battle them.

'The Demons Have Taken Over'

Duncan posted to his blog only two more times, on May 11 and May 13. In the first, titled "The Demons Have Taken Over," he wrote that the demons had forced him to question his religion, leading to his undoing.

"I am scared, alone, and confused, and my reaction is to strike out toward the perceived source of my misery, society. My intent is to harm society as much as I can, then die."

He then wrote that the "Happy Joe" of the past was just a dream and that he'd been pretending all along.

"I was in prison for over 18 years, since the age of 17. As an adult all I knew was the oppression of incarceration," he wrote.

"All those years I dreamed of getting out ... And getting even. Instead, I got out and I got even, but did not get caught. So, I got even again, and again did not get caught. So, I figured, well, I got even twice (actually more, but that's here nor there), even if I'm the only one who knows, so now what?"

In the last post, Duncan wrote that he's no longer sure what's right and what's wrong, and wonders if it matters. His mother, he wrote, "is crying because her son is in trouble again."

He wrote that he is composing an encrypted journal that may someday be unencrypted "and then the world will know who I really was."

"Maybe then they will understand that despite my actions, I'm not a bad person, I just have a disease contracted from society, and it hurts a lot.

"I hope to complete this journal before I die (soon) or turn myself in (I still might do that, I think it is the right thing, but of course, I'm not sure)."

Joe Duncan didn't turn himself in, but he did go quietly when police arrived about 2 a.m. Saturday at a Coeur d'Alene Denny's after getting calls from the manager and a patron, both of whom had recognized the girl sitting with him as Shasta Groene.

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