A notorious convicted killer who targeted children will likely die on death row from late-stage brain cancer, new reports this week suggest.
Joseph Duncan, a serial killer tied to the deaths of numerous children, is expected to die from terminal brain cancer before the state is able to enact his death sentence, the Associated Press reports. He underwent surgery on his brain in October 2020 and was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma shortly afterward, his attorneys previously disclosed in court documents obtained by the AP. Prison medical professionals in November 2020 gave him a life expectancy of six to 12 months and talked with him about “end-of-life preparations,” the documents reportedly state.
Duncan refused chemotherapy and radiation treatment, according to the AP.
A repeated sex offender, Duncan has been on death row in a federal prison in Indiana for two years and was in the midst of the appeals process, KXLY-TV reports. Medical professionals at the prison suggested in reports that Duncan is allowed to take a pain reliever three times a day as needed, and he may receive help in maintaining the cleanliness of his space, according to medical records obtained by the outlet.
“I spoke with the warden regarding having someone help to keep his cell clean once or twice a week,” a November 20 report written by a doctor and obtained by KXLY reads. “It might be a little bit much for him to consistently bend over and clean the area considering his balance issues.”
Duncan was found guilty in 2005 of having killed numerous members of a family in Idaho, killing two adults and one teen before abducting two of the children, abusing them for weeks, and later killing one of them. He initially broke into the family’s home and killed Brenda Groene, her partner Mark McKenzie, and her 13-year-old son Slade Groene before kidnapping the remaining two children: 9-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Shasta.
He then kept the children captive for weeks, abusing and sexually assaulting them before killing Dylan and leaving his remains at a campsite; Shasta was rescued after employees and customers at a restaurant in Coeur d’Alene recognized her and quietly notified the authorities.
When Duncan abducted Dylan and Shasta, he was already facing charges related to having molested two boys at a playground the year before then fleeing while released on bail, the Seattle Times reported. He has a long history of sexual violence, having first been convicted of raping another teen boy at gunpoint when he was 16 years old, according to the outlet.
In addition to the 2005 family murder, Duncan was also convicted of killing Anthony Martinez, a 10-year-old boy from California, The Spokesman-Review reports. He also confessed but was not charged in connection with the abduction and murder of two young sisters, Sammiejo White and Carmen Cubias, according to the Seattle Times.
Duncan is serving 11 life sentences.