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Idaho police: Searchers find remains

Search of sex offender's stolen vehicle yields 'strong leads'

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Missing Children
Idaho

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (CNN) -- Investigators searching for a 9-year-old Idaho boy found what they believe are human remains at a location in western Montana, the Kootenai County sheriff said Monday.

In a brief statement, Sheriff Rocky Watson told reporters the remains were being collected and would be sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for identification.

Dylan Groene and his 8-year-old sister, Shasta, disappeared May 16, when authorities discovered a triple homicide at their mother's home in Coeur d'Alene.

Shasta was found at 2 a.m. Saturday at a Coeur d'Alene Denny's restaurant in the company of Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1980. Duncan, a registered sex offender, was arrested and charged with kidnapping.

Also Tuesday, authorities released a convenience store surveillance tape that shows Duncan and Shasta arriving in a red SUV, entering the store, making purchases and leaving again. At one point, the girl is alone while Duncan looks at a newspaper.

The girl's return has been mixed with further tragedy for the family.

"All indications are that Dylan is deceased," Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said Monday.

A DNA analysis of the remains was expected to take about 72 hours, Wolfinger said. In the meantime, the search for the boy will continue.

Wolfinger said investigators have looked at physical evidence and taken statements. Shasta provided helpful information, he said.

Authorities "were able to identify several areas" where they believe Duncan and the Groene children may have stayed over the past six weeks, Wolfinger said.

The sites were primarily in northern Idaho, western Montana and eastern Washington, within a range that's about 100 miles wide, Wolfinger said.

The children's father, Steve Groene, was reunited with Shasta on Saturday afternoon at the Kootenai Medical Center.

Shasta was still being treated Monday, with her father by her side. Photos released by authorities showed her with her father at the hospital and smiling with a doll.

Wolfinger said the girl appeared to be in good condition.

"She's extremely happy being with her father," he said. "She's going to remain at the hospital a little while longer until they medically release her."

On Sunday, authorities released tapes of two 911 calls -- one from a customer at the Denny's and one from the restaurant's manager -- reporting the presence of a girl they thought might be Shasta. (Full story)

Wolfinger said the "next big question" in the investigation is any possible link between Duncan and the triple homicide in Coeur d'Alene.

"We've got a lot of evidence to go through," he said.

According to authorities, the children's mother, 40-year-old Brenda Groene, another brother, 13-year-old Slade, and their mother's 37-year-old boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, were found bound and bludgeoned to death.

Some "strong leads" came from the Jeep Duncan was using, Wolfinger said. The vehicle was reported stolen in early May in St. Paul, Minnesota. The license plates were stolen in Newton County, Missouri, a few days before.

Wolfinger said more than 100 tips have poured in from people in the area who reported seeing the vehicle. Investigators are using that information to piece together his possible movements over the past seven weeks, he said.

Authorities also searched Duncan's home in Fargo, North Dakota, some 1,000 miles east of Coeur d'Alene, investigators said.

Duncan is scheduled to appear in court in connection with kidnapping charges Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Criminal background

When he was 16, Duncan was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint in 1980 in Pierce County, Washington, and was charged in March with child molestation almost a year ago in Minnesota.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the rape conviction. He was released on parole in 1994 but returned to prison three years later for a parole violation.

He served the remainder of his term and was released on July 14, 2000. A week later, he was in Fargo preparing to enter North Dakota State University.

On his personal Web site at the school, Duncan claimed he was an honor student studying computer science and said he expected to graduate in May. But NDSU spokesman David Wahlberg said Duncan did not graduate. (Full story)

Charges against him in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota -- about 45 miles east of Fargo -- may have had something to do with that. Duncan had been under investigation since late July 2004 for an incident involving two boys near a middle school

The Detroit Lakes Police Department issued a warrant for his arrest on child molestation charges March 5. He was released on bail April 5, but soon after the Detroit Lakes police were looking for him again, this time for violating his terms of release.

He apparently was no longer living at his last listed address in Fargo, and both the North Dakota and Washington state registries of sex offenders listed him as delinquent.

In a Web log Duncan maintained, he portrays himself as increasingly paranoid and nervous. (Full story)

"My intent is to harm society as much as I can, then die," the blog reads in an entry dated May 11.

Duncan also ran a Web site called "Fifthnail.com," on which he claimed in a mission statement "that State Sanctioned Discrimination serves no public interest and in fact creates an even more dangerous class of criminals by denying x-convicts a place in our society, forcing them to feel like outcasts with little to loose [sic]."

Fifthnail.com was no longer operational; CNN located archived copies of some pages.

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