Shasta Groene: Kidnapping Survivor Speaks Out A Decade After Her Abduction

Ten years ago, Shasta Groene and her brother Dylan were abducted from their Coeur d’Alene, ID-area home. Their disappearance was discovered when police investigated the brutal murder of the children’s mother Brenda, stepfather Mark, and brother Slade on May 16, 2005. At first, police had few leads. They didn’t know who had taken Shasta and Dylan or why, People reported in the month following the murders. The kid’s biological father, Steven Groene, who had been divorced from their slain mother for 15 years at the time of the children’s disappearance, was even reportedly considered a suspect. There were even reports that had failed a polygraph in relation to the crimes, and he stated to the press that the police were very accusatory during the investigation.

“You know something about the whereabouts of your children. I think you need to tell us now,” an officer allegedly told Groene.

On July 2, 2005, six weeks after Shasta Groene and her brother vanished, with a community mourning what it was beginning to believe would be a forever loss, Shasta’s kidnapper Joseph Duncan brought the 8-year-old girl to a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s for a meal. She was recognized by a member of the staff, who contacted authorities. The police arrested Duncan and interviewed a terrified, traumatized Shasta before reuniting her with her family.

Missing Groene's
[Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images]
The story that Shasta Groene would recount to police was one of abject horror. Duncan broke into her home and killed her mother, stepfather, and brother. He abducted Shasta and Dylan, taking them to a remote campsite near St. Regis, Montana. Both Shasta and 9-year-old Dylan were sexually assaulted, KOMO News reported. Dylan was then shot twice and killed, his remains burned in the campfire while Shasta Groene was forced to watch.

Duncan ultimately agreed to a plea deal for his crimes against the Groene family, including the kidnappings and murders. He was sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. When the plea was accepted, he still faced federal charges related to his crimes against the Groene children, as well as a plethora of other charges for repeated violent and sexual crimes against other children, including the murder of Anthony Martinez in California in 1997. He is currently on death row in federal prison.

Groene Family thanks community.
[Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images]
In the decade since Shasta was reunited with her family and loved ones, the now 18-year-old woman continued to struggle. KHQ reports that Shasta Groene, who is pregnant with a baby boy and due in March, 2016, suffered through years of body issues, notoriety due to her ordeal, and even drug and alcohol problems. She and her father also fell on financial hard times due to her father being diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and being rendered unable to work.

KOMO reported on the situation with Shasta Groene and her family at the time, when the community came together to raise funds to rebuild the struggling family’s home. The pair had been so financially strapped that they even faced a brief period of homelessness. The Coeur d’Alene area had previously raised nearly $90,000 for Shasta Groene, but the money was secured in trust and could only be used for limited purposed prior to her 25th birthday. The family’s financial troubles only contributed further to the adjustment issues Shasta was facing in her post-kidnapping adolescence.

In February 2014, a struggling Shasta Groene was sentenced to a year in juvenile detention for drug-related offenses. According to Shasta, that time of incarceration changed and possibly even saved her life.

“I don’t know where I’d be, I don’t know if I’d be alive.”

During her recent interview, Shasta also recalls how she remembers the family members stolen from her by her kidnapper’s actions. She’s tattooed her mom’s name on her arm, and she tries to live each day as though her family was never taken away. Birthdays are still celebrated in remembrance.

“We treat everyday like they would still be here with us.”

The young mom-to-be is working diligently to create a better, brighter future for herself and the child in her womb, a child she feared she would never be able to have. The young woman had previously feared that she had been too injured physically by her abuse at the hands of her kidnapper to have children.

When news of Shasta’s pregnancy was made public, neighbors in her local community and well-wishers from around the world began searching for a way to show her their support. Since Shasta Groene’s interview aired, a GoFundMe account has been set up for her and her baby.

Shasta also had a few words for her family’s murderer and her kidnapper a decade after his horrific crimes against her.

“I’d want him to know that he doesn’t control me, and he doesn’t control how I feel. He’s the person who took away my family and my innocence, but I don’t ever really think about him. It’s just my family. And I want him to know he doesn’t have any power right now, because he’s the one sitting in prison while I’m out living my life.”

Even though Shasta has relocated to Southern Idaho, distancing herself from the Coeur d’Alene area where her ordeal began, she is beloved and supported by the people of Coeur d’Alene. That community wishes Shasta Groene nothing but the best as she begins this time of her life, which she described by saying that ” I feel a peace in my life that I’ve never felt before.”

[Image Courtesy of Handout/Getty Images]

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