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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Shasta & Dylan Groene - May 17, 2005 ID  (Read 11347 times)
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xx Shasta & Dylan Groene - May 17, 2005 ID
« Thread started on: May 18th, 2005, 06:20am »

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(CBS) Police have been combing the area around a modest home just outside Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, since a neighbor reported it was suspiciously quiet there Monday night.

"I had a real bad feeling," says Bob Hollingsworth, "because, always, some kid or the dog or somethin' comes out of there, you know."

When police went in, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes on The Early Show, they found a horrific crime scene: the bodies of 40-year-old Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade, and 37-year-old Mark McKenzie, of Coeur d'Alene.

Missing are Groene's nine-year-old son, Dylan Groene and eight-year-old daughter, Shasta Groene.

"We know (McKenzie isn't) the biological father," says Capt. Ben Wolfinger of the Kootenai County, Idaho Sheriff's Dept. "We spoke to the biological father."

The biological father, who's the dead woman's ex-husband, has been ruled out as a suspect, according the sheriff, who also says there's no evidence the crime is a murder-suicide.

Late Tuesday night, police named someone they're calling "a person of interest," 33-year-old Robert Roy Lutner, of Hayden, Idaho, who was known to have been at the Groene home Sunday evening. He's thought to be driving a 1975 silver ford pickup or a 1990 white Toyota pickup.

Brenda Groene's older son, Jesse, who is jail on unrelated burglary charges, says he can't believe he lost almost his entire family. He'd spoken to his mother less than a week ago: "Whoever did this is just straight twisted; something's wrong with them."

Cadaver-sniffing dogs are working the heavily wooded area, which is close to Lake Coeur d'Alene, and authorities have issued a statewide Amber Alert for Shasta and Dylan.

"We're counting on somebody out there knowing something about the family that will help lead us to these children," says Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson.

Watson will speak with The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler Wednesday.
"I love those little kids, they were great little kids," Hollingsworth says, "always smiling and always waving at me when I came."

Local officials have called in crime scene help from the state and the FBI.


http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/05/18/earlyshow/main696059.shtml
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xx Police question man about Idaho slayings
« Reply #1 on: May 19th, 2005, 05:17am »

Police question man about Idaho slayings
By JOHN K. WILEY


COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- A man sought for questioning in the bloody slayings of three people contacted authorities Wednesday as the search continued for two children missing from the home where the killings took place.
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Detectives were interviewing Robert Roy Lutner Wednesday evening, Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said. Wolfinger did not say where Lutner was found, but news reports said the interview was in Coeur d'Alene, in northern Idaho.

The children, 8-year-old Shasta Kay Groene, and 9-year-old Dylan James Groene, were not with Lutner, the Spokesman-Review reported, and an Amber Alert remained.

Authorities have said Lutner was known to have been at the children's home on Sunday night, the night before the bodies of their brother, mother and a man were found.

Police in several states had been attempting to locate Lutner, and Wolfinger said Lutner had known he was being sought.

Police had sought Lutner, 33, of Hayden, to determine whether he may have seen something, or met someone at the home east of Coeur d'Alene where the bodies were found.

Shasta Groene, 8, is 3-feet-10 and 40 pounds with long auburn hair and hazel eyes, and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, is 4 feet and 60 pounds with a blond crewcut and blue eyes.

The bodies of their mother, Brenda Kay Groene, 40, and brother, Slade Vincent Groene, 13, and Mark E. McKenzie, 37, of Coeur d'Alene, were found in the house.

Police released few details about the evidence found inside the house, but Wolfinger said there was "lots of blood."

"We know this was a triple homicide because all three victims were bound," Wolfinger said, declining to elaborate.

Autopsies were being conducted Wednesday to determine how and when the three victims were killed. Neither Wolfinger nor Sheriff Rocky Watson would characterize the relationship between McKenzie and the others.

Authorities prepared to drain small ponds near the home Wednesday to search "for evidence of any sort, or, God forbid, the children, but maybe a tool or weapon, anything," Wolfinger said.

The search also expanded from the siblings' home to nearby fields and woods where they are known to play. Wolfinger said police and civilian volunteers on horses and all-terrain vehicles were looking for "little forts" and "favorite places out in the woods" where the children might be hiding.

"The children are our number one priority," Wolfinger said. "We keep processing the scene with the idea that maybe we'll get that one clue at the scene that will lead us to where the children are, and who they may be with."

Jesse Groene, 18, an older brother of the missing children, said his mother had been acquainted with Lutner for about two years. Jesse Groene is currently jailed for investigation of assault, battery, burglary and possession of stolen property.

Lutner was on probation for an unemployment fraud conviction and had left information Tuesday with a probation officer that he intended to visit his father and stepmother in the Boise area, Wolfinger said.

A woman who answered the phone at an Emmett-area home believed to belong to Lutner's parents said she could not comment.

"The FBI has advised us not to talk about this. We don't know anything more than you do," she said before hanging up.

Police had no apparent motive, Wolfinger said. The sheriff's department received more than 150 tips in the first 12 hours after it set up a tip line, but not all the information was useful.

"Some were from some real weird people," Wolfinger said. "We're keeping some of that information close to the vest so we can sort out what is legitimate and what is not."
http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=361299&category=&BCCode=&newsdate=5/19/2005
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xx Possible break in Idaho case
« Reply #2 on: May 20th, 2005, 05:53am »

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (CNN) -- A tip that two missing children may have been spotted in an Idaho store prompted a lookout for a tall man driving a light colored van, possibly now in northwestern Montana, investigators said.

Authorities launched a massive search for 9-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Shasta after their mother, brother and their mother's boyfriend were found brutally slain in their Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, home on Monday.

The owner of Roundheels Sports, a small store in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, called the 911 operator in Boundary County, Idaho, at 4 p.m. (6 p.m. EDT) Thursday to report that he "saw two small children who looked similar to the two children described in the Amber Alert related to the triple homicide in Kootenai County in the company of a tall man," according to a news release from the Boundary County Sheriff.

"The man reportedly sought directions to Libby, Montana, and left with the children in a light colored full-sized American made van with Washington State license plates," the sheriff's release said.

Despite a "quick response," Idaho and Montana authorities were unable to find a van matching that description on the highway or secondary roads between the store and Libby, Montana, about 40 miles to the east, the sheriff said.

Witnesses at the store were not able to give a good description of the man or vehicle, he said.

"Descriptions provided by several witnesses varied widely as to the physical description of the man, his clothing, hair color and the color and make of the van," the sheriff said.

Bonner's Ferry is about 70 miles north of the home where Brenda Groene, 40, her boyfriend Mark McKenzie, 37, and her 13-year-old son, Slade, were found dead on Monday.

This tip is just one of about 300 given to investigators since Monday, police said.

The coroner's office concluded Thursday that the three victims died of of blunt force trauma to the head -- a grisly crime that has puzzled investigators and left two young children missing from the home.

The three victims were bound, and the blows to their heads left a blood-splattered scene in the home, said Ben Wolfinger, a spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

Autopsies were performed Wednesday on McKenzie and Brenda Groene; the autopsy on Slade was completed Thursday.

The coroner's office said Slade and his mother died of "lacerations and contusions of the brain due to skull fractures" from the blunt force trauma. McKenzie died of contusions, or bruises, to the brain.

The time of death could not be immediately determined. Authorities said the victims and two missing children were last seen alive Sunday night at a barbecue at the home. The bodies were discovered Monday after neighbors called police when they didn't see any activity at the home.

Earlier Thursday, Wolfinger told reporters that a man interviewed by the sheriff's department and FBI agents about the murders "had nothing to do" with the crimes.

He said Robert Roy Lutner, 33, who was seen Sunday night at the house, contacted authorities Wednesday night after he was named as a "person of interest" in the case. Lutner had waited to turn himself in because of a probation violation.

Authorities, including FBI agents, interviewed Lutner for more than seven hours and he voluntarily took a polygraph test "that confirmed his truthfulness," Wolfinger said.

"He had nothing to do with the death scene or the abduction of the children. And we're very comfortable with that," he said.

Wolfinger said Lutner is no longer a person of interest in the case, and authorities have no other strong leads.

One piece of information Lutner provided was that there was a "gathering of friends" for a barbecue at the home Sunday afternoon.

"We want these people to call us," Wolfinger said. "We need to talk to these folks and we need to get their elimination prints, so we can figure out who was here legitimately and who may have been involved in this crime."

Steve Groene, the father of the two missing children, fought back tears as he urged those who might be holding his children to set them free.

"Please, please release my children safely. They had nothing to do with any of this," the father said. "Release them in a safe area where law enforcement can find them, call the help line, let them know where they can be found. Please, we need the safe return of those children."

Searchers were combing thick woods surrounding the house.

"We're looking for anything right now," Wolfinger said. "Our ultimate goal is to find the children."

He said authorities remain optimistic the children are still alive.

"Why would the killer come in, kill three people and take two children? Does that give us hope for the children?" Wolfinger asked. "You bet it does. That's all we have to go on at this point is hope. Without solid leads, we're going on hope and those prayers."

In the Amber Alert issued for the missing children, authorities described Dylan as 4 feet tall, 60 pounds, with short blonde, crewcut hair and blue eyes; and Shasta as 3-foot-10, 40 pounds, with long auburn-brown hair and hazel green eyes
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/05/20/idaho.amber/
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xx Police Skeptical That Man Saw Missing Idaho Kids
« Reply #3 on: May 20th, 2005, 1:40pm »

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- Investigators in Idaho are following up on a tip about two missing children -- even though they're skeptical of the report.
The tip -- that the children were seen in a light-colored van -- came from a shopkeeper in a town 75 miles north of Coeur d'Alene, where the children's mother and brother and a third person were found murdered Sunday.

A sheriff's spokesman said investigators are skeptical that anyone who abducted Dylan and Shasta Groene would be seen publicly with them in the region four days later, but he said every lead is being checked.

One officer said they are focusing their search on northern Idaho, western Montana and an area of southern Canada.

"Every law enforcement agency, and quite frankly a lot of the public, are looking for that van," the officer said.

The children were discovered to be missing Monday, when the bodies of their mother and brother along with a third person were found at their home. Found dead in the home were the children’s mother, Brenda Kay Groene, 40, and brother, Slade Vincent Groene, 13, and Mark E. McKenzie, 37. Police said the three victims had been bound and there were blood splatters in the house.

Steve Groene, the father of the 9-year-old boy and the 8-year-old girl, appeared on TV and begged for their return.

"If they can see me or hear me, I want them to know I love them," Groene said.

A sheriff in Idaho said he believes the children are alive. Authorities said nearly $70,000 has been contributed to a reward fund.

Thursday, a man wanted for questioning in the killings was ruled out as a suspect.
http://www.nbc10.com/news/4511293/detail.html
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xx Police dismiss tip in Idaho slayings case
« Reply #4 on: May 20th, 2005, 11:04pm »

JOHN K. WILEY


COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Authorities looking for two children missing from a home where three people were beaten to death dismissed a tip that the youngsters were in a van about 20 miles from the Canadian border.

Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said the reported sighting of the children from a shopkeeper in Bonners Ferry was incorrect. The boy in the van had long hair, but the boy being sought has a crew cut, he said.

Authorities said they have few clues in the disappearance of Dylan James Groene, 9, and his sister, Shasta Kay Groene, 8, who were last seen Sunday at their rural home near Coeur d'Alene.

The next evening, their mother, Brenda Kay Groene, 40, their 13-year-old brother, Slade Vincent Groene, and the mother's boyfriend, Mark Edward McKenzie, 37, were discovered bound and bludgeoned to death in the white cinderblock home.

Searches of about 400 acres of brush and woods near the house wrapped up Thursday, and divers used their hands to feel the bottoms of nearby ponds and streams.

"They're confident there's nothing more here," Wolfinger said. "Ground crews are 100 percent certain the children are not here."

Investigators Friday wrapped up their crime scene investigation at the home where the bodies were found.

Sheriff Rocky Watson told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane on Thursday that he believed the children were still alive, because it would not make sense for the killer or killers to leave some bodies and take others.

"I've got to believe they're alive. I need to," Watson said.

Kootenai County Coroner Dr. Robert West told Spokane, Wash., television reporters that preliminary toxicology results indicated the presence of "illicit drugs" in the two adults, but not in the 13-year-old. He did not elaborate.

An Associated Press call to West's office Friday evening was not answered.

Detectives contacted everyone known to have attended a barbecue at the home Sunday, and detectives were taking statements from them, Wolfinger said. He declined to say how many were questioned, or what was learned.

Steve Groene, the father of the missing children, has made several television appearances to plead for the children's return. The Fox TV series "America's Most Wanted" scheduled a segment on the Groene children to air Saturday.
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/11700448.htm
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xx Aunt begs children: 'Hang in there'
« Reply #5 on: May 21st, 2005, 11:09pm »

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (CNN) -- The aunt of two missing Idaho children urged whoever has the siblings to turn themselves in and hope for "compassion."

Wendy Price also tried to comfort her niece and nephew Saturday, telling them to "hang in there" in hopes they could hear her.

Shasta Groene, 8, and her brother Dylan, 9, have been missing since Monday, when police found the bodies of their mother, Brenda Groene, 40; their 13-year-old brother Slade; and the mother's boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, 37, at the Groenes' home.

The three bound victims died of blunt force trauma to the head, said Kootenai County Coroner Robert West. The time of death was unclear.

A preliminary toxicology report showed the presence of "illicit drugs" in the two adults, but not in the teen, he said. The doctor did not elaborate.

The victims were last seen alive Sunday night during a cookout at the house, authorities said.

Since then a massive hunt has been under way for Dylan and Shasta.

The nationwide Amber Alert describes Dylan as 4 feet tall, 60 pounds, with short blond hair and blue eyes; and Shasta as 3 feet 10 inches tall, 40 pounds, with long auburn-brown hair and hazel eyes.

"We all love them," the children's aunt told reporters. Price is the sister of Steve Groene, the children's father.

Hoping they could hear her, Price told the youngsters: "You hang in there, because we're going to find you. We're going to find you soon. And just hold comfort in that, and we know that your brother is watching over you right now, and so is your mother. We don't feel any harm is going to come to you."

She also warned whoever has them to give up.

"I think that's the best thing that they could do -- turn themselves in and look for that compassion, because they're not going to get it if we have to find them."

The crime was featured Saturday night on Fox's "America's Most Wanted," and the public was asked to help aid the search.

"Everybody that knew these kids knows they were just great children," their father said on the show. "I never, ever thought I'd never get to see any of my kids not grow up and become adults and have families of their own."

Although hundreds of tips have been called in, none has panned out, authorities said.

Volunteers ended their search Thursday after re-canvassing about 400 acres surrounding the Groene home. Also searched were lakes and ponds nearby.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/21/idaho.amber/
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xx $100,000 reward posted in Idaho Amber Alert case
« Reply #6 on: May 24th, 2005, 07:09am »

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (CNN) -- Hoping to generate new leads in a case that has puzzled investigators, authorities on Monday announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the two missing children in Idaho or for information that could lead to those responsible in their presumed abduction.

Nine-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Shasta Groene have been missing since last Monday, when their mother, one of their brothers and their mother's boyfriend were found beaten to death in the mother's home.

Authorities have said they have no suspects in the killings or in the children's apparent abduction.

The reward money is being posted by the federal government. Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson said the county also is posting an additional $7,500.

"What we're trying to do is generate information which will help us continue our investigation," FBI special agent Tim Fuhrman told reporters. "This is just another tool in our bag to generate that information and give us what we hope is a happy resolution to this particular situation."

People with any information are urged to call a hot line at 208-446-2292 or 208-446-2293, or e-mail kcgovtipshotmail.com.

Watson said authorities have received more than 900 tips so far, but they hope the substantial reward money will give them "more tips, more leads as this investigation proceeds."

"I have a need to believe those children are still alive," Watson said.

Earlier, Kootenai County Sheriff spokesman Ben Wolfinger said the father of the two missing children is not a suspect "or even a person of interest" in the case.

"We don't have any person of interest," he said.

His comments followed a televised interview Sunday night in which the father, Steven Groene, said an FBI agent told him he failed "portions" of a polygraph test and that there were doubts about his innocence. Groene was divorced from the children's mother.

"It's pretty devastating to have to hear somebody say that they think you know something about this," the father said on Fox's "At Large with Geraldo Rivera."

Wolfinger told reporters a polygraph "measures the physiological response" of the subject.

"This man is extremely emotional, and very understandably so," he said.

The coroner's office has said Brenda Groene, 40, her boyfriend Mark McKenzie, 37, and her 13-year-old son, Slade, died of blunt force trauma to the head. The victims had been bound. (Full story)

The last time they were seen alive was Sunday, May 15, when they had a get-together with friends at the home.

The children's aunt, Wendy Price, tried to comfort her niece and nephew Saturday by telling them to "hang in there" -- with the hope they could hear her. (Full story)

She also urged whoever may have taken the children to turn themselves in and hope for "compassion."

Addressing the children, Price said: "We're going to find you soon, and just hold comfort in that, and we know that your brother is watching over you right now, and so is your mother."

http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/05/24/idaho.amber/
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xx Campers, hikers asked for help in Idaho case
« Reply #7 on: May 25th, 2005, 07:07am »

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The Memorial Day weekend will send crowds of people into the forests and campgrounds of northern Idaho, and law officers yesterday asked them to keep an eye out for two abducted children missing more than a week.

Authorities continue to receive tips, but have not developed any suspects or strong leads in the whereabouts of Dylan Groene, 9, and his sister Shasta, 8, missing from a home where three people were found dead on May 16.

"There will be thousands of people going to national forestlands and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands around the Coeur d'Alene area," Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said at a news conference. "We ask if anybody camping in those grounds sees anything suspicious, please don't touch it. Contact law enforcement."

An extensive search of the heavily wooded area around the family's home eight miles east of Coeur d'Alene yielded nothing.

"We have to think outside of our general area," Wolfinger said. "National forests are a natural area for disposal of evidence."

The FBI is sending 30 more employees to help in the search, including experts in child abductions, Wolfinger said. They will join about 40 investigators from various agencies.

A public memorial service was scheduled today for Brenda Groene, 40, mother of the missing children, and Slade Groene, 13, their brother. The third person, Mark McKenzie, 37, will have a private ceremony. All three were bound and bludgeoned.

Police have developed no motive and no suspects for the killings or the disappearances, Wolfinger said. There were no signs of forced entry at the rural house, and officers believe the children were inside when the crimes occurred, he said.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/225688_idaho25.html
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xx Idaho Abduction Case Baffles Investigators
« Reply #8 on: May 26th, 2005, 05:27am »

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS



COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Sheriff Rocky Watson doesn't have anything to go on — no suspects, no leads, no motive. But he has hope that a boy and his little sister will be found safe.
"I have a need to believe those children are still alive," Watson said.

Dylan Groene, 9, and Shasta Groene, 8, were abducted a week and a half ago, probably after they witnessed their mother, her boyfriend and an older brother being bound and then bludgeoned to death inside their rural home, authorities say.

After searching across the Northwest and fielding more than 1,150 tips, the FBI and local investigators say they have no idea why the victims were killed and the youngsters taken.

Investigators could take their search for a murder weapon or clues to the children's disappearance to a landfill as early as Thursday, the sheriff's department said. The landfill is where trash from the area of the family's home was taken last week.

A memorial service was held Wednesday at the Real Life Ministries church for Brenda Groene, 40, and 13-year-old Slade Groene. Mark McKenzie, 37, will have a private service.

"Those who hurt children, God will take care of," said Pastor Bill Putman. "I tell ya, hell's a long time."

Brenda Groene and other family members had done drugs and committed petty crimes over the years, but investigators have not publicly connected any of that to the slayings.

Watson has speculated there was more than one killer because all the victims were bound. Officers also suspect the victims knew the killer because there was no sign of forced entry.

Public suspicion has centered on Steven Groene, Brenda's ex-husband. But deputies insist he is not a suspect, even though he has no alibi for the night of the slayings, failed a lie detector test when asked if he knew the whereabouts of the children, and issued a puzzling public plea for the return of Dylan and Shasta.

Although he attended Wednesday night's memorial, he said nothing at the service, or afterward to reporters.

"Please, please release my children safely," Groene said last week. "They had nothing to do with any of this."

Officers could not say what "any of this" referred to.

Because the Groene home is close to Interstate 90, just west of a pass in the Rocky Mountains, investigators have said it is possible a random motorist committed the crimes and then jumped onto the highway heading toward Montana or Seattle.

Steven and Brenda Groene were married in 1986 and had five children before they divorced in 2001. In a television interview, Steven Groene said he and his ex-wife had squabbled over visitation rights as recently as a few days before the slayings, but otherwise got along.
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xx DNA tests raise hope kids alive
« Reply #9 on: May 27th, 2005, 07:11am »

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Preliminary DNA tests showed no traces of the blood of two missing children in the home where three other people were slain, raising hopes that Dylan and Shasta Groene are still alive, officials said Thursday.

Only the blood of the three slaying victims – the missing children’s mother and older brother and the mother’s boyfriend – was found at the scene, according to initial analysis by the FBI.

“There is no indication that any of the blood is from the children,” Kootenai County Sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger said. “It bolsters our feeling the children are alive and we’ll recover them and bring them home.”

“We are not looking for bodies,” he added.

Dylan, 9, and Shasta, 8, have been missing since the three bodies were discovered in the rural home May 16. Investigators believe the children were in the house as the victims were bound and bludgeoned, and might have been abducted by the killers.

Officers began searching a landfill Thursday about 10 miles south of Coeur d’Alene for evidence, such as a weapon, tool or bloody clothing that might have been discarded in large metal trash bins near the Groene home, Wolfinger said. He said the search might take five to 10 days.

The trash bins were checked the morning after the bodies were found inside the home, and since then the dump’s operator has isolated daily trash pickups from the area, he said.

The FBI has placed a high priority on the case and has been rushing the processing of evidence from the home, eight miles east of Coeur d’Alene. More results are expected today, Wolfinger said.

Authorities still do not have a suspect or motive for the crimes, and have said they have no idea where the children are.

A public memorial service was held Wednesday for the children’s mother, Brenda Groene, 40, and their 13-year-old brother Slade. The other person killed was Brenda Groene’s boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, 37, who will have a private service
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/news/local/11753479.htm
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xx Investigators Not Discouraged By Lack Of Progress
« Reply #10 on: May 27th, 2005, 11:26pm »

Nearly two weeks after Dylan and Shasta Groene disappeared, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office says it is not discouraged by a lack of suspects or clues to the children's whereabouts.
Captain Ben Wolfinger says it can take months to solve crimes in which there are no obvious suspects or motives.

Despite an enormous nationwide effort, law enforcement officers say they have no idea who took the children and killed their mother, older brother and mother's boyfriend in their rural home.

FBI agents were back at a landfill Friday, looking for clues that might have been dumped in garbage cans near the crime scene last week. They have some 40 tons of garbage to go through in a process that could take more than a week.

Investigators also are awaiting new information from the FBI crime lab in Virginia
http://www.kxly.com/common/getStory.asp?id=43973
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xx Possible Lead in Missing Kids Case
« Reply #11 on: May 31st, 2005, 07:05am »

Police are following a possible lead in the case of two missing north Idaho kids...
Law enforcement officials in south-eastern Washington, and north-eastern Oregon are on the lookout, after a possible sighting of Dylan and Shasta Groene.

Just before five o'clock on Monday, Wallowa county, in northeast Oregon issued a B-O-L-O or a 'be on the look-out' for a vehicle in relation to the missing kids. Alerts have been sent to several counties in southeast Washington.

We know from Columbia county in Washington that authorities are looking for a dark blue, 2001 Dodge Dakota pick-up with Idaho license plates, 209-795.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Captain, Ben Wolfinger wants to stress this is just one of several tips. He says certainly, investigators are following up on it, but says there's no guarantee it will lead detectives to Dylan and Shasta Groene.

Authorities say if you see this vehicle, please call police immediately.

http://www.kxly.com/common/getStory.asp?id=43985
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xx Landfill search in killings turns up empty
« Reply #12 on: Jun 2nd, 2005, 05:46am »

COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO -- A search of 800 tons of trash at a landfill failed to turn up clues in the deaths of three people and the abduction of two children, officials said Wednesday.

Police last week began searching the landfill about 10 miles south of Coeur d'Alene for evidence, such as a weapon or bloody clothing, that may have been discarded in trash bins near the victims' home.

Brenda Groene, 40; her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, 37; and her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, were found bound and beaten to death May 16. Two other children of Groene's, Dylan, 9, and Shasta, 8, had vanished.

Investigators have no suspects and no motive for the crime.
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xx Many theories, few clues to Idaho children's where
« Reply #13 on: Jun 7th, 2005, 07:01am »

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Some people think Dylan and Shasta Groene were snatched by drug dealers. Others think they might be hiding in the woods. There's a motorcycle gang war theory and a cult theory.

Nearly three weeks after 8-year-old Shasta and 9-year-old Dylan were reported missing from the home where their mother, older brother and mother's boyfriend were bound and bludgeoned to death, investigators say they have no clue where the children are -- and no suspect or motive.

"We haven't closed the door on any angle of this thing," said Capt. Ben Wolfinger of the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, whose officers have logged more than 1,600 hours of overtime in the largest criminal case in the agency's history.

FBI agents and local officers have interviewed 400 people and searched through 800 tons of animal carcasses and other trash at a landfill. The FBI office in Salt Lake City has devoted up to 85 agents to the search.

Although law enforcement officers are reluctant to say so, the chances of finding the children alive grow slimmer as time passes. According to a 1997 study by the Washington state Attorney General's Office, 74 percent of the children who die in abductions are killed within the first three hours.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, of the 797,500 children reported missing in 1999, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the vast majority were runaways or were abducted by a family member.

The NCMEC currently lists 10 missing children from Idaho, including the Groene children. The earliest case dates from 1980, when 1-year-old Curtis Fair was abducted from Nampa.

The Groene case began on the evening of May 16 when sheriff's deputies went to the rural home after a neighbor reported that dogs were barking and the door of one vehicle was open but no one was in sight. The deputies found the bound bodies of Brenda Groene, 40, Slade Groene, 13, and Mark McKenzie, 37, all dead of massive head injuries.

Officials have not said how long they had been dead. The victims had last been seen alive the previous evening.

The small house is less than half a mile from an access ramp on busy Interstate 90. It is only about 30 miles from the Washington state line, 50 miles from the Montana line, and 100 miles from the Canadian border.

The children's biological father, Steven Groene, 48, of Coeur d'Alene, was almost immediately discounted as a suspect, even though he failed parts of an FBI lie detector test and had no alibi. Groene, a blues musician, and Brenda were divorced in 2001. They sometimes squabbled over visitation rights but relatives have not indicated any deeper problems.

Some 1,500 tips flowed in, with people offering theories that ranged from alien abduction to a motorcycle gang war, since Steven Groene owns a Harley-Davidson.

Steven Groene, his ex-wife and two adult sons had minor criminal records, mostly involving theft or drug abuse. Traces of methamphetamine were found in the bodies of Brenda Groene and McKenzie, fueling rumors of a drug hit.

Andrew Vachss, a New York City author and attorney who specializes in studying crimes against children, is intrigued by the case.

He said the killers apparently had complex motives because they bound and likely interrogated the murder victims. That could indicate a dispute over drugs or money that exploded in a rage of violence, he said. There was likely more than one killer since the victims were bound, he said.

He does not think the children were deliberately abducted to be sold for sex or into slavery, because the perpetrators of such crimes would not likely draw extensive attention to themselves by killing three people.

Vachss said another possible scenario is cult activity. Perhaps the adults had betrayed leaders of a cult and were killed, while the smallest children were considered innocent and salvageable, Vachss said.

Wolfinger said cult connections were not considered likely.

Bob Price of Tacoma, brother-in-law of Steven Groene, said the family is satisfied that law enforcement is doing all it can.

"The agonizing part is for the two missing kids," said Price, whose wife Wendy is Groene's sister.

Searchers initially hoped the children might have escaped the house and hidden in dense woods nearby. Relatives still cling to the hope that the kids may be safe and in hiding.

Some are drawing comfort from the case of Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old Utah girl who was kidnapped from her bedroom in June 2002. She was found nine months later on a street in a suburb of Salt Lake City with her abductor and his wife.

But that case was highly unusual, said Bob Wright, a spokesman for the FBI in Salt Lake City.

"It is a rare, rare, rare exception after being gone for so many months," Wright said.
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http://www.courttv.com/news/2005/0606/idaho_ap.html
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xx Students plant tree in memory of missing kids
« Reply #14 on: Jun 10th, 2005, 05:28am »

By DAVE TURNER


COEUR d'ALENE -- Even though it's been a week since any new official information has been released on the triple killings at Wolf Lodge, investigators are continuing to work the case full-time.

"We are beating down every lead," said Idaho State police Capt. Clark Rollins. "We're not done by any stretch of the imagination. It's just one of those things that is going to take a little time."

Investigators are nearing the end of the fourth week since Brenda Kay Groene, 40, her son, Slade Groene, 13, and live-in boyfriend, Mark Edward McKenzie, 37, were found the night of May 16, bound with white plastic zip ties and bludageoned to death at their Frontage Road home near Wolf Lodge Bay.

Even with no solid theories, at least which they are ready to release, Rollins said investigators are single-minded in their goal to find the killer or killers, and to find Brenda Groene's two youngest children.


On Wednesday, students at Fernan Elementary School, where Slade attended classes and Dylan, 9, and Shasta, 8, were enrolled at the time of their disappearance, classmates planted a tree to remember them by.

Coeur d'Alene School District Superintendent Harry Amend read the poem, "Advice from a Tree" by Han Shamir.

It reads, in part:

"Remember your place among all living beings

"Embrace with joy the changing seasons

"For each yields its own abundance

But for the family of the victims, the wait for information is just as frustrating as it is for the general public.

"Half of me is content that (investigators) are doing everything they can to solve this," said Bob Price, Dylan and Shasta's uncle and the brother-in-law of their father, Steve Groene.

"But the other half is saying if it was the three law enforcement officers killed and two missing, would it be done any differently?" he said. "I do think in that case, it would be done to a higher state of conclusion."

Price said it was frustrating and difficult to "maintain my composure" because the family is getting little if any specifics about the investigation.

He said he hopes investigators have the best intentions in withholding information they can't share with family, but was led to believe authorities would have conducted more regular briefings with the family. He said the last formal meeting he knows about was during the first weekend after the killings.

Rollins said the case is far from becoming a "cold-case file."

"Everybody still understands the urgency of the case," Rollins said, especially because the two youngest Groene children are still missing. "It's on the front of everybody's radar screens."
http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com/articles/2005/06/09/news/news03.txt
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