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Aired July 2, 2005 - 13:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: A major break through in the case a 6-week-old missing children's case out of Idaho, Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. Eight year-old Shasta Groene, she was found alive early this morning at 2:00 a.m. She apparently was in a Denny's restaurant. She came there with a man being described as 42-year-old Joseph Duncan.
Apparently a waitress and the manager of the Denny's saw the little girl, thought it was unusual that a child of this age would be in a restaurant at this time, as I mentioned 2:00 a.m. early this morning. They started to look at her. She looked awfully familiar. They were looking throughout the restaurant for a flyer to refresh their memory of the ID of the little girl known as Shasta Groene who had been missing along with her brother, nine-year-old Dylan Groene.

But she, as I mentioned, was alone with this man Joseph Duncan. It clicked, yes, that was her, they called 911 and they continued to engage themselves in conversation with the two at the table, meaning the little girl and the adult at the table to try to keep them there, offered the little girl a milkshake.

The waitress apparently, this through accounts that we have received from several reporters who are working the story out there, the little girl seemed rather timid and she would sort of look to the man for approval as she would answer the questions.

The waitress and manager kept the little girl engaged in conversation, police arrived, were able to arrest Joseph Duncan, where they have since charged him with kidnapping. The little girl now is receiving some medical treatment and being looked after at a nearby medical center and then, presumably, later they will treat her very delicately as our Don Clark, a former FBI special agent in charge described to us early, treat her very delicately as they try to ask her some questions about what her experience has been in the past six weeks.

It was her, nearly her entire family that had been found dead in their home in Coeur D'Alene, just two miles, apparently, away from this Denny's restaurant. Investigators will probably ask her about what took place that day, that evening, what's happened and transpired over the following six weeks; and where is her nine-year-old brother, Dylan Groene. That question, still unanswered, that's where the investigation is.

Just moments ago, actually within the last hour, Kootenai County Sheriff's Department Captain Ben Wolfinger held this press conference and this is where he brought us up to date. Let's listen in. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. BEN WOLFINGER, KOOTENAI COUNTY, IDAHO POLICE: It's 9:00. This is the briefing we promised at you here at 9:00.

Joseph Edward Duncan, III, is the person in custody. Right now he is charged with kidnapping, as well as a couple of warrants, out- of-state warrants, fugitive-from-justice warrants, other charges are possibly pending, depending on how this investigation goes through out the day and through out the weekend.

We know he has a history, as far back as 1980, of rape in Pierce County, Washington. He is a registered sex offender in Minnesota. One of his outstanding warrants is: Failure to register as a sex offender in Washington. The other is a unlawful flight to avoid prosecution out of Minnesota for a second-degree sexual offense.

His last know address is Fargo, North Dakota, since 2000. His mother lives in Tacoma. He was arrested in -- on July 3rd of 2004, for sexual assault at a middle school in Detroit Lakes, Michigan.

ANd he's known to be an avid outdoorsman and quite a scholar is our understanding. We don't have a whole lot more information on him at this time. Apparently he's also the owner and manager of a Web site that advocates not prosecuting or persecuting child molesters.

So -- and that -- my understanding is called I haven't pulled that up yet. So, that's something, I guess, you can all take a look at.

Investigators, right now, are interviewing Shasta, trying to learn more information. They're following up leads. Everybody -- anybody who had the day scheduled off has been called in to work, everything is moving full-speed at this point.

One of the station's been announcing that Dylan has been found, that is inaccurate. Now, let's correct that right now. He has not been found. We don't know his location. All we know is that he wasn't with Shasta and Duncan, at the time Shasta was recovered this morning. So, that's, hopefully, some of the information that'll come out of the investigators this morning as they're interviewing Shasta.

That's all I've got right now.

QUESTION: Ben, where are you looking for Dylan right now?

WOLFINGER: We're not even going to talk about where we're going to look for Dylan. That's going to be based on the investigators and the information they gather. Then and only then, we'll start looking. What we told you right from the get-go is that when we get a word on the children, a good positive word on the children, we would make sure the children were safe, would notify the family, then we'd notify everybody else. And that's -- we're going to stick to that all along.


WOLFINGER: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Has Steve been reunited...

WOLFINGER: Steve was out-of-state when we first contacted him. And I know he was en route, but I don't know that he's back yet.

QUESTION: What shape is Shasta in this morning? Can you give us more details about the tyep of shape...

WOLFINGER: Well, I really can't. I don't know what the medical results were. But we do know that Shasta was sitting in a restaurant and eating a meal. So obviously, she was in good enough shape to be doing that. She's able to talk to investigators.

QUESTION: Is Mr. Duncan actually talking to you, has he waived anything yet? Is he giving you more details?

WOLFINGER: He is custody right now; investigators are dealing with Shasta right now. I don't know if they've actually interviewed Mr. Duncan at this point.

QUESTION: Do you know if Duncan has a connection with either the Groene family or with the general area here?

WOLFINGER: We don't have that information yet. You know, that's still some of that very -- we're in the very preliminary stages of this whole situation. We're going to try to put all that together as the day goes along.

QUESTION: Any idea on how much the warrant is --

WOLFINGER: I don't know what the bond amounts are out of those, as a fugitive warrant, though, there is no bond in the state of Idaho.

QUESTION: Are you planning on doing any kind of special first appearance on him or are you going to wait until Monday or wait until Tuesday?

WOLFINGER: Well, they'll do probable-cause hearings in front of the judge by Monday morning. That woudl be the procedure; they have to do it within 48 hours. But Tuesday, because of the holiday, will first appearance time. That will be a call on the prosecutors and courts. At this time, I don't think that's been decided.

QUESTION: The sheriff had mentioned that Mr. Duncan had is the first time investigators have heard of Mr. Duncan, he's every been heard of throughout this investigation. What does this mean as far police work?

WOLFINGER: Well, I think that the fact that we have Shasta here, is going to generate a bunch of new leads and we know that already -- it's already starting. That's why we've got all the investigators back and they'll be working those throughout the weekend now.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)... of the investigators and the police officers and sheriff's deputies and eveyone who has worked on this case?

WOLFINGER: Well, we're very happy that we've got Shasta here and we know where she's at and she's safe. And you know, it just gives us renewed hope and just reinforces that hope that, all along -- that we'd find Shasta and Dylan and we'd get them home.

HATLEY: All right --

QUESTION: Can you give us any indication as to where she's been held in the last month or so --

WOLFINGER: The investigators are with her right now and so, we won't have any information for a while.

QUESTION: Do you know if she was with her brother?

WOLFINGER: I don't know.

HATLEY: All right, Ben, I mean, obviously, Dylan is still the top priority now. You still have three unsolved homicides. How far will this arrest today go to help solving those?

WOLFINGER: Well, it all depends on what leads are generated from this, Toby. It's going to take some time to sort through all the new information they're gathering as they go through this thing; what Shasta can tell them; if Duncan talks to them, what Duncan can tell them. That'll all go toward the entire case; not just the missing children, but the homicides as well.

QUESTION: Have investigators been able to go through Mr. Duncan's car yet?

WOLFINGER: Well, I know that search warrants were one of the things that have to be done and prosecutors have been involved with this since early this morning. So, I'm sure once the search warrants are done and they have the personnel to do it, they'll be able to do that. The vehicle was impounded. It's being held in storage right now for us. It's a process, as we have time.

QUESTION: Any idea if this guy was actually staying in town or a transient?

WOLFINGER: I don't know. I just know his home address is in Fargo.

QUESTION: What kind of vehicle is it?

WOLFINGER: I really don't know at this point. Hopefully, I'll have some of that information for you by the 11:00.

HATLEY: What do you think of all this now, I mean, that we're two months into it? How surprised are you?

WOLFINGER: I'm surprised that she was found here in Coeur D'Alene. I'm very excited that she was found period. And you know, I always had that confidence and I think that I echoed that throughout this investigation. I was always confident we'd find her.

QUESTION: Are more investigators being called in?

WOLFINGER: Well, everybody who's available and I mean everybody who is available is being called in. Anybody with holiday plans for the weekend, pretty much got cancelled.

QUESTION: I heard that a majority of FBI agents that were working from out of town, that came in here from out of town, have since returned and are working...

WOLFINGER: Well, I know they've been rotating FBI agents through this area, in this investigation for several weeks now. And I know that in my office this morning at -- by 4:00 a.m., there was a lot of FBI agents I had never seen before or only seen in passing in the hallway. So, we've got a lot of people here, still working this case.

QUESTION: When you heard about another possible sighting, what were your hopes that this might actually be it? I know you've gotten a lot of bad tips.

WOLFINGER: Well, actually when I got the call, it had already been confirmed. So, that -- it was a great call to get at 2:30 in the morning.

QUESTION: Can you go into how this was confirmed? We heard reports that Shasta told the waitress that: Yes, I'm Shasta Groene and I want my daddy, and started crying?

WOLFINGER: I don't have that information yet. As we get back with the investigators, after they are done talking to Shasta, maybe we'll learn that information.

QUESTION: Was there any incident when Joseph Duncan was arrested, or did he go peacefully?

WOLFINGER: No he -- they said they had no problem arresting Mr. Duncan. He was taken into custody without incident.

HATLEY: What's the process now after you speak with Shasta? Does she go into state custody? Does she reunite with her father? How does that work?

WOLFINGER: Well I think that's sill being sorted out by the investigators in the prosecutor's office, so that's just some of the process, the paperwork stuff, that's going to take a little bit of time to figure out, Toby.

QUESTION: Right now, is she a ward of the state?

WOLFINGER: I don't know. I really don't know.

QUESTION: You have no motive at this time?

WOLFINGER: No. That is going to take some time to development, that's for sure. QUESTION: What did he seem like taken into custody? Was he alert or was -- did he seem he groggy, or did he seem --

WOLFINGER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Who actually made the arrest?

WOLFINGER: The city detained him and the counties booked him into the jail -- county deputies booked him into the jail.

QUESTION: So it was the Coeur D'Alene police called?

WOLFINGER: Right they were called -- it was a Denny's here in Coeur D'Alene -- they were called on a possibly sighting and they confirmed it, and detained Mr. Duncan until deputies arrived and actually deputies booked him into the jail.

QUESTION: Were there two officers?

WOLFINGER: Two or three officers, yeah.

QUESTION: What's Shasta's condition?

WOLFINGER: I don't know what here medical coition is, she's still down at the hospital.

QUESTION: Where's the Denny's at?

WOLFINGER: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Where's the Denny's at?

WOLFINGER: Fourth and I-90.


WHITFIELD: You are looking at a press conference that took place a little over an hour ago from Captain Ben Wolfinger of Kootenai County, Idaho Sheriff's Department, updating folks on the person who has been apprehended in connection with the alleged abduction of Shasta Groene, who has since been found alive early this morning. Her alleged kidnapper is Joseph Duncan. He is a 42-year-old, and you heard the captain there describe he is a scholar and an outdoorsman. Of course, we'll be talking a little more about who this man, Joseph Duncan is.

Right now, let's talk to Don Clark, who is a former FBI special- agent-in-charge, who can give us a better sense as to where this investigation is going next. And Don you and I talked last hour, trying to understand some of the first steps that these investigators would take when trying to locate two reported missing children.

We now have since learned that, while Joseph Duncan has a history of sexual assaults and child molestation charges, convictions and is a registered sex offender in the state of Washington, which neighbors this portion of Idaho, and in Minnesota, as well, he apparently has criminal history in North Dakota and in Michigan, we now perhaps understand, Don, why he may have been overlooked in Idaho, because he is not a registered sex offender, from what we're gathering right now in Idaho.

You were mentioning earlier, sex offenders are some of the first folks that the law enforcement may seek out when looking to uncover or develop a missing child's case -- missing children's case.

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI AGENT: That's true, Fredericka. That's why the system, in my opinion, is not yet as ironclad as it can be. And I know there's been some oppositions on both sides. But the states are not connected to each other. I mentioned also when we were talking earlier, that I know that there is a particular website out there that does have the ability to send to people in their particular neighborhoods, areas where sex offenders may be and that could be a first step of trying to connect this together. But the states as close as they are, and the borders, you could step across that line and you probably won't be picked up in the state where you were not registered as a sex offender. That's one of the loopholes in the system as I see it.

WHITFIELD: And there were some other complications in this case, I would imagine. Just given the location of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. It is sandwiched, or at least in this portion of Idaho, sandwiched between the states of Washington and Montana. But Kootenai County -- Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, is really closer to Spokane, Washington, than anything. So you have to have some cooperation from various juristrictions don't you when you have a case like this?

CLARK: Yes, you know and beyond just actually phisical cooperation between those. And I'm sure there is a degree of that when these law enforcement jurisdictions border each other. You will find that there is quite a bit of coordination between them. But the technology has to be connected as well. We live in a very technical world today. And we've got to consider that now -- that the state and municipalities probably need to consider connecting some of their information when it is particularly in terms of the safety of the citizens.

WHITFIELD: And while that cooperation is important, it's paramount, we're also finding, just by how this story is developing, this case is developing, it really takes the cooperation and participation of the community to work with law enforcement, because we heard it was the waitress and a manager of a Denny's Restaurant right there in Coeur D'Alene, who spotted this little girl, recognized her from all of the flyers that have been circulating over the past six weeks and then acted quickly, succinctly, and called 911, and then the story unfolded from there.

CLARK: Well you know it has to take the citizens, and we talk about neighborhood policing all the time. This is what neighborhood policing is all about, Fredricka. But neighborhood policing can better assist if, to the extent possible, that law enforcement will get the information out to the community. Because the community wants a safe neighborhood. I don't think they're being nosy neighbors if they see something that they saw a picture of and have some information. And we really -- and I say we, I've been gone for a few years, but not withstanding -- law enforcement has really just come into this probably about a good 10 years ago where they felt a little bit more comfortable with releasing what information they could to the public. And you can find that things like this that happened today will be the results of it.

WHITFIELD: And, Don, how concerned are you at this point, that while this little girl is alive and was with her alleged abductor, the little boy, nine-year-old Dylan -- her brother -- was not with them.

CLARK: That raises concern. I'm sure right now, in the interrogation rooms, in those police departments, that the law enforcement community is really focusing on that little boy. We all want to wish the best and hope that the best comes out of this. But you've got to just try to get the information that you can and try to see if this person, who was arrested, Duncan, I believe his name is, can shed some light on where this little boy is and hope he's still alive. I think that's the hope that you've got to have at this point, Fredricka,

WHITFIELD: Now Captain Wolfinger mentioned that the last noted address of Joseph Duncan, the alleged kidnapper here, was in North Dakota -- Fargo, North Dakota. But clearly, he must be living in this area. Trying to locate his most current address in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, is going to be of paramount concern. How do they go about trying to locate where he last lived? Are they going to rely on the testimony of the little girl, while they're very delicately treating her at the medical center?

CLARK: You know, I think they have to, and I think they have to try to get the little girl to a mental state, where hopefully whatever she knows, she'll be able to share that with them. Law enforcement has really gotten sophisticated in these days, in the last few years, in being able to deal with these kids like that and bring on the experts who can elicit that type of information. It may not be a police officer that gets that information from her, but it will be some professional. But they've really got to rely on that.

Then, they've got to work with that subject that they've got in jail and see what they can do. They also have another avenue, and I'm sure they're doing this, is trying to go every place that person has been and see if they can identify some dots there, if you will, that they can put together to try to determine where that kid may be.

WHITFIELD: All right, Don Clark, former FBI special-agent-in- charge. Thanks so much.

And perhaps they'll be really looking closely at a copy of his resume, Joseph Duncan -- we have a copy of it right here -- to get a sense as to what his habits are like, what his lifestyle's been like. It's actually a very impressive resume, because you heard the captain describe moments ago that he is a scholar and he is an outdoorsman, he even has his own website, a website that asks people not to persecute or continue to persecute prosecuted sex offenders.

More on Joseph Duncan and what we've uncovered when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: More now on this developing story, one of two children reported missing in Idaho six weeks ago has been found alive this morning in Idaho. It was 2:00 a.m. when a waitress and a manager of a Denny's restaurant noticed this little girl, thought she was very familiar, weren't quite sure, but looked around the restaurant for flyers that had the images of Shasta Groene, along with her nine-year- old brother, Dylan Groene, found the flyer, were able to verify that this little girl that had walked in the restaurant with a man who is now being described as 42-year-old Joseph Duncan was indeed that of Shasta. They called police. And while they're waiting for police to arrive, gave the little girl a milk shake, continued to engage themselves in conversation with the little girl as well as with that man, Joseph Duncan, before police arrived and then apprehended Joseph Dunn and have since charged him with kidnapping. They are now medically treating the little girl, Shasta Groene, to make sure that she is OK. But the search continues for her nine-year-old brother, Dylan.

Let's talk a little bit more now about this alleged kidnapper. Joseph Duncan is the man that is being described as the person with -- accompanying Shasta Groene. He's been charged with kidnapping and nothing else as of this point. He is likely going to be questioned about where Dylan may be.

On the telephone with us is Pat Brown, who is a criminal profiler. And Pat, perhaps you can help us understand where the investigation goes from here. Because investigators were searching far and wide involving Idaho authorities as well as Washington and neighboring Montana authorities and now come to find out this man, who at least had the possession of Shasta, was right under their noses.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Exactly. That is what's the most unusual thing about this whole case is, because it is really hard to imagine why the man even stayed in town when he knew everybody was looking for those children. Why would he stay there and why would he go to Denny's and take the child in there when he's -- this isn't New York City, here. You would expect someone may well recognize the child. It really boggles the mind what the heck Duncan was thinking when he did that. Probably he doesn't have the best IQ in the world.

WHITFIELD: Well, you know, on paper he is rather impressive, isn't he, I mean we have a copy of his resume here that has been provided to us and apparently --

BROWN: He wrote it, right? He wrote that resume?

WHITFIELD: I suppose he did. I wish I knew the source of it.

BROWN: Probably a pack of lies.

WHITFIELD: We've obtained this resume from him. What it says here is that he graduated Phi Kappa Phi (sic), Golden Key, wason the dean's list etc, from North Dakota State University. And he apparently currently is a software developer -- of course all these things still need to be checked out, but this is what his resume is saying -- and a research developer. And at the same time, we did at least hear from the captain, from Kootenai Sheriff's Department, who says he also has his own website and this website is asking people not to persecute sexual offenders. This man does have a criminal history of sexual offenses, child molestation cases.

BROWN: Exactly. That's the one part --

WHITFIELD: This really speaks to the boldness, you believe?

BROWN: Well, yes. And I think the website is the one that -- that's probably the most accurate part. Quite a few sex offenders have websites of their own. They absolutely love that, because that way they have a lot of control and power. They can develop their website, they can talk to people and they can push people around. They can get their ideas out there. That's probably accurate about him. That he is all these other things, I doubt seriously, because he wrote that resume himself and he probably greatly -- he's got some grandiose thinking there and he probably made himself sound a lot better than he is.

WHITFIELD: All right, when you study people with this kind of track record -- and I'm talking the criminal history of sex offenses, child molestation, et cetera -- does it appear, in your view, that there usually is a real common denominator, common denominator characteristic about people with this history?

BROWN: The common denominator is they're psychopaths. There's no way that a child predator is not going to be a psychopath. He wants what he wants. In this particular circumstance, this kind of guy wants children as opposed to something else. But I'm not sure about his entire record, whether he's only focused on children. Because there are actually some predators out there who seem to like just about everything and their records also show that they commit just about any kind of crime, which means they simply like doing what they want to do. If it happens to be drugs, it's happens to be drugs and if it happens to be robbery, they'll do that. And sometimes they just have simply every crime in the book on their record.

I don't know about this particular guy. This is what makes it interesting, as to how he came in contact with this family? Was he really focused on the children or was he involved in some other way with the murder victims that simply brought him in contact with those children? And was the purpose of the crime -- was the motive actually to take the children or was the motive something else and then the children were just a nice little prize to go along with the package?

WHITFIELD: Yes, and you know -- and you talk about the activity of a suspect that's being described as this individual, Joseph Duncan, on his resume on paper, it states it one way. On his criminal history record on paper out of Fargo, North Dakota, particularly, that we have obtained, it states his demeanor a very different way, as having a number of crimes that may involve hand guns, ammunitions, abductions of children, sexual assaults -- all of these things, a kind of litany of offenses that --

BROWN: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- that dot his criminal history.

BROWN: Exactly. He's what you call a career criminal, which is one of those things that people should never be allowed to become. That's one of the problems of the criminal justice system, is why that the person who commits this level of crime keeps getting out of prison and keeps running around. There shouldn't be a career, there should maybe one offense and if anything more, another offense, then that should be it.

WHITFIELD: There have been a number of law enforcement officials who said, if only there were a better data banking system so that there would be a better sharing of information for particularly convicted sex offenders so that every state would be privy to the location of an individual such as this man, who apparently has a history of child molestation, sex offenses. How helpful do you believe it might have been in an investigation like this?

BROWN: Absolutely. That is one of the things we really need to work on. We're a mobile society. People keep going from place to place. And we can't depend that we're going to know everybody in our town and what their records are if we don't have some way to access it. They need what I call a suspect bank. In other words you can put in any name you come in contact with and find out whether he's been even a person of interest in a crime. So if you just put Duncan's name in, you'd come up with he's committed these crimes and he was a person of interest here, here and there. And even if he hadn't committed crimes, he would still come up as a person of interest and link to something, so we would know what kind of person he was.

Likewise we need with sex predators and criminals -- I do not understand why it is not available to the general public. Every single person should be able to go to one website and find out if somebody's committed a crime in this society. That should be public information. I know there are those people who say, privacy -- hey, a person should have a right to go out and start their life over again. Well maybe so. But they also should -- if they've committed a crime against our citizens, the citizens have a right to know.

WHITFIELD: Criminal profiler, Pat Brown. Thanks so much for being with us on the telephone.

BROWN: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: We're going to take a short break and when we come back reaction from one family member of Shasta Groene -- found this morning alive, just two miles away from her home.


WHITFIELD: After six weeks missing, rather, eight-year-old Shasta Groene out of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, has been found alive. However, the search continues for her nine-year-old brother, Dylan. If you recall, about six weeks ago, investigators found the bodies of the majority of these Groene children's family members dead in their home in the remote section of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. An investigation and a search, a widespread search, had been underway looking for these two missing children.

And now six weeks later, early this morning, in a Denny's Restaurant, Shasta Groene was spotted in the restaurant -- coming into the restaurant with a 42-year-old man, Joseph Duncan. Police then came shortly after the restaurant workers identified the little girl as being that of Shasta Groene. Investigators came, arrested Joseph Duncan, and now the little girl is being looked after at a medical center.

But the search continues for her nine-year-old brother, Dylan Groene. Earlier, our Betty Nguyen spoke with one of Shasta's great- aunt, Sue Torres, and spoke with her on the phone about her reaction to the news. Let's listen in.


SUE TORRES, SHASTA'S GREAT AUNT (via telephone): The only thing that I really know is that a waitress at a Denny's Restaurant in Coeur D'Alene recognized her.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): And she's well? She's OK?

TORRES: She's well; she's in the hospital, she's talking. She wants her daddy. That's just what I heard from the little gal at the Denny's Restaurant that spotted her.

NGUYEN: What about her nine-year-old brother, Dylan Groene, who has also been missing since May 16th -- have you heard about his whereabouts?

TORRES: No. I think Shasta's probably going to take us to him.

NGUYEN: Was Shasta with anyone at this Denny's Restaurant? What do you know about that?

TORRES: Yes. That's -- there's a press conference in Coeur D'Alene right now and they are releasing the name. I hate to say the name without --

NGUYEN: That is OK, do you know who this person is though, if you don't want to release the name, who is this person, is it a male or female?

TORRES: It's male and I've never heard the name before.

NGUYEN: So it's not a relative or a friend or anything like that?

TORRES: I have never heard this name. All I know is he's supposedly from North Dakota.

NGUYEN: A man from North Dakota. Do you know how she was spotted at this Denny's Restaurant? TORRES: In the restaurant, she was in the restaurant with him.

NGUYEN: And one of the workers there recognized her face?

TORRES: Yes, one of the waitresses.

NGUYEN: OK, and just to recap for our viewers we are learning today that eight-year-old Shasta Groene has been found alive. We're talking on the phone with her great-aunt, Sue Torres, who lives in Wyoming. She's giving us the details about this information that we are just learning here at CNN.

So Sue, you told us she was found at a Denny's Restaurant. Any indication where she's been since May 16th.

TORRES: No. She's at the hospital now and they're going to probably do all their checks that they need. There'll be more as the day goes on.

NGUYEN: And also want to know the latest, if you can update us, on the investigation into the death of Shasta's mother, brother and her mother's boyfriend. Where is that at this point?

TORRES: It's ongoing. I know that is there more agents coming in. It's going to help us a lot.


WHITFIELD: A remarkable story. A remarkable turn of events now for the investigation, as Idaho authorities have been looking for eight-year-old Shasta Groene, along with her brother, nine-year-old Dylan Groene. You heard there from the great-aunt, Sue Torres, she had just received the notice that Shasta Groene, at least, had been found alive at a Denny's Restaurant.

On the telephone with us right now, Tom Greene is a reporter for the Coeur D'Alene Press. You've been working this story Tom since it broke at approximately 2:00 a.m., when a waitress and a restaurant manager at a Denny's spotted the little girl. Tell us about your reporting and the developments that have ensued since you first got the call this morning.

TOM GREENE, COEUR D'ALENE PRESS (via telephone): Right now, I'm trying to find out some background on Joseph Duncan. It looks like he has a pretty lengthy history. In 1980, he actually was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy, when he was 16 years old, at gunpoint. Most recently, he moved to Becker County, Minnesota, and he failed to appear at a May 16th court hearing, where he was accused of molesting a boy in Detroit Lakes. I guess he approached two boys, 6 and 8, at a school playground. He is accused of pulling down the shorts of the younger boy and touching him and trying the same act with a friend. He's a level 3 sex offender. Right now, we're still trying to figure out more on this guy.

WHITFIELD: And we know at least, from the captain, Ben Wolfinger, he did -- while he didn't go through the litany of offenses and charges and subsequent convictions, he did at least say he was a registered sex offender, Joseph Duncan, in the states of Washington and Minnesota, that he had a criminal history in North Dakota and was a child predator in Michigan as well. Now, do you have any sense as to -- while he's been in the Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, area, is his name completely unfamiliar to most people there, since this is a fairly tightly-knit community. Does anyone speak yet of knowing him at all?

GREENE: No not at all. As far as I know, he was -- no one even knew he was here, as far as I know at this point.

WHITFIELD: Because apparently, his last listed address, according to authorities, that we've learned was in Fargo, North Dakota, and that he doesn't have a listed address in Coeur D'Alene, according to some of the authorities?

GREENE: Yeah, we haven't found anything on him here. He missed -- Becker County, Minnesota, from what I heard, is right near Fargo, North Dakota. He missed the May 16th court hearing there, for the -- allegedly touching two boys, age 6 and 8, so he could -- yeah, for Coeur D'Alene, this the first we have heard his name.

WHITFIELD: As you try to uncover more about Joseph Duncan -- and we're doing the same -- tell me a little bit about the sense of the community, as to whether people there felt like these two missing children, going on the sixth week, whether they would ever be found? We've heard from some folks who say people there never lost hope and we hear from others who say, they really thought these kids would not ever be found alive, at least not in Idaho.

GREENE: It's like the rest of the country. We had about as much information as you guys did. We really didn't know -- I mean, of course, there's always that hope, it was always strange that the two children were missing. That always left that hope out there. Of course, right now, we don't know where Dylan is so we're still worried.

WHITFIELD: When you got the call this morning that Shasta Groene had been located, describe for me how you learned about it and what happened soon after.

GREENE: I got a call early this morning; I came into work and started doing research on this Joseph Duncan, who -- he's got a lengthy history. I'm finding out -- it kind of goes on and on. I'm right in the process of doing that. He's pretty well known by authorities. He's a level 3 sex offender -- which is considered the most likely to offend -- in North Dakota. He's not a nice guy.

WHITFIELD: Yeah. I noticed in your article, at least in your website article, that you were able to give some kind of bullet points as to how this little girl was located, that it was waitress and the store manager, who together did notice Shasta Groene, and identify her as being the little girl who that entire area had been looking for, for six weeks. Did you get a chance to ever talk to the waitress and the manager of that Denny's?

GREENE: I haven't. There's a reporter who went there earlier, but, no, I haven't had a chance to get over there. I think everyone's left, from what I heard.

WHITFIELD: For that particular Denny's, give us an idea, in that neighborhood, the kind of traffic. We're looking at a map which is showing that portion of Idaho kind of sandwiched between traffic on I- 90, there, I understand, kind of between Montana and Washington, you've got a lot of out-of-state traffic, but at the same time, that Denny's is a restaurant where a lot of the locals kind of frequent.

GREENE: That highways off the road from Wolf Lodge where the murders occurred and the children were abducted. It's about 20 minutes down the road, basically, right off the highway. You can see the house where the murders occurred; you can see it from the highway. If you're just driving by, anybody could see it.

WHITFIELD: Even though that residence is considered in a very remote area, it's just the way the highway kind of cuts through?

GREENE: Exactly. It's remote but it is right off the highway. You can't miss it. If you drive 20 miles down the road, if you take the exit, you can get to Denny's.

WHITFIELD: In some of the folks, while you've been doing your reporting this morning, is there a huge sense of relief or is it rather bittersweet since the whereabouts of Dylan are still unknown?

GREENE: It's very bittersweet, it is relief but it is tempered with, gosh where is Dylan? We'll see.

WHITFIELD: Tom Greene, thank you so much for joining us -- with the Coeur D'Alene Press, right there in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, where in part, as Tom is describing, kind of bittersweet: great news that Shasta Groene has been found alive early this morning, but still unknown, the whereabouts of her nine-year-old brother, Dylan.

We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: A bittersweet break in the case of the missing children out of Idaho -- eight-year-old Shasta Groene and her nine- year-old brother, Dylan Groene. Well, Shasta Groene has been located alive. She was spotted early this morning, around 2:00 a.m., Idaho time -- Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, time -- 2:00 a.m. in a Denny's Restaurant, along with her alleged abductor. She was at the restaurant the waitress and a manager there spotted her, recognized her, called police. The police came and were able to come to her aid and give her medical treatment, where she's still at a medical center nearby.

As for Joseph Duncan, who is her alleged abductor, well he is now with authorities in custody being questioned there and he has since been charged with kidnapping. However, still unknown, the whereabouts of Dylan Groene. He is still missing. And apparently, this -- this story all began about six weeks ago, if you recall. Nearly the entire Groene family was found murdered in their remote Coeur D'Alene home, but missing were Shasta and Dylan and presumed to be alive. Police conducted a widespread search, and now the search has ended for one of the missing children, but it still goes on for the other, for nine- year-old Dylan Groene. Alina Cho takes us back to the investigation, which was at the time, a murder investigation, and a missing persons case. Let's look back with Alina Cho now.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The proud little girl in this video, showing off a school science project, is Shasta Groene. The eight-year-old and her nine-year-old brother, Dylan, have now been missing for nearly a week. Wendy Price is their aunt.

WENDY PRICE, AUNT: You hang in there because we're going to find you and we're going to find you soon.

CHO: The two children have not been seen since the bodies of their mother, 13-year-old brother and the mother's boyfriend were found at their home Monday night. Authorities discovered the bodies after a neighbor called 911.

BOB HOLLINGSWORTH, NEIGHBOR: I went to the door to pay the little kid $10 for mowing the lawn and there's blood all over the door. No one comes to the door and their cars are fixed (ph) there. I tried to call them today and I didn't get them.

CHO: Preliminary toxicology results show both the mother and boyfriend were using drugs at the time of their death. Investigators wrapped up their work at the home on Saturday, but so far, they have few clues, and no suspects. The Coeur D'Alene community has only hope to go on, evidence near the children's school. Little consolation for the children's father.

PRICE: He hasn't been able to eat because he doesn't know if Shasta and Dylan are eating. He gets into bed and he can't get comfortable because he doesn't know where they're sleeping. He can't drink water because he doesn't know if they've had any water. It's been very difficult week for him. He wants his children back. He wants to -- he wants to put his other child to rest.

CHO: Dozens of investigators are following hundreds of tips, but so far none of them have panned out. Authorities, however, remain hopeful they will find the children alive. Alina Cho, CNN, Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.


WHITFIELD: Again, that story was filed about six weeks ago. But now the latest development today is that one of those children that you saw in that spot, Shasta Groene has been found alive. She was found early this morning. Apparently now, she's receiving some medical treatment at a Coeur D'Alene medical center. But the search continues for her nine-year-old brother, Dylan. And apparently, investigators now are going to be continuing to ask questions to Joseph Duncan, because he is the man that they have charged with kidnapping -- kidnapping and being with Shasta Groene early this morning, at that restaurant. Apparently, a waitress, as well as a manager, spotted the little girl with that man, finding it rather unusual that the two were together, particularly that a little girl was at the Denny's Restaurant at 2:00 a.m. Looked at her, conferred with one another and decided, yep, that looks like the little girl that folks have been looking for for six weeks now, and called police and then police arrived and were able to take the little girl to get some medical attention.

One of the first things one of the waitresses recalls the little girl, Shasta Groene saying, she just wanted to be back with her dad. You heard the family member in Alina Cho's piece talk about how the dad has been devastated and couldn't wait to be reunited. The search continues for his nine-year-old son, Dylan.

Let's get on the phone now with Alina Cho, who is in Philadelphia. She is covering a very different story, she is covering the Live 8 concerts there, but since she was part of the investigation -- covering the investigation out in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, we want to bring her in on this.

Alina, the family members and the entire community had really been very involved in the ongoing search for these two kids. And it resulted in the community coming together once again to take notice that this little girl was very recognizable, was indeed the one who had been missing for six weeks and very quickly took action.

CHO (via telephone): I think it's important to note, Fredricka, as Captain Ben Wolfinger of the Kooetnai County sheriff's office said, in the past hour or so, said that this provided renewed hope for the investigation. Remember, brother Dylan is still missing, and this is also a triple murder investigation. Remember that the children's mother, brother and mother's boyfriend were found dead, so there were two ongoing investigations. But also, remember that, not only is there renewed hope there in Coeur D'Alene and across the country, there's now renewed interest in this case.

I think that is important to note. Wendy Price, the sister of the father of Dylan and Shasta, who you may have seen in my piece a moment ago, pleaded with me -- and really, a lot of the national media, when I was in there in Idaho -- saying, please keep this story alive. She held my hand and she said, please don't go, please keep this story alive. Please show Dylan and Shasta's pictures. And I think it's important to note that now that Shasta has been found alive, this story is once again in the national media. And so for anyone out there who may be -- whether you're in the community or elsewhere across the country, that people will remember the story now and now look out for nine-year-old Dylan.

WHITFIELD: And that's what it, in part, seems to be taking, is, you know, the community interest. For folks to be involved and pay attention to these many flyers and buttons that are apparently still posted throughout the Coeur D'Alene area, in search of these little kids. And now, well, just Dylan.

CHO: Yes. Absolutely, Fredricka. When I was there, I noticed flyers, and the pictures were plastered all over local businesses. The Amber Alert, of course, at that time, was still up for these two children. Everywhere you would look -- it was remarkable, even car dealerships, you would see, where normally they might be advertising certain cars, they had the Amber Alert up, you know, two children missing, Dylan and Shasta Groene. Of course their family, in some ways, were very savvy, because they stayed in the media and made themselves available to the media quite frequently and they believed and recognized that would be a good thing to keep the story alive, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: It sounds like it was very helpful, too, for the Coeur D'Alene authorities to have as many regularly-scheduled press conferences as they did. They got the images out of these little girls rather quickly, didn't they, even though they were investigating an active murder scene? Quickly they assessed there were two kids missing and got their images out right away and kept folks up to date on what was taking place with that search.

CHO: Oh absolutely. Daily, there were several media briefings, Fredricka, you will remember very well and in part because this was a triple murder investigation and in part, because there were two children that were missing at the time.

Captain Ben Wolfinger, who really was the face of this investigation, spoke frequently and quite candidly, but even off- camera would say to me, listen we are indeed confident that we will find these two children alive because it is nearly impossible for us to believe that someone would go in and kill three people, and not two of the children that were there. And so family members believed that these two children may have run away, or may have run away scared or thought that they were in trouble.

Relatives described them as quite close -- always hugging, always holding hands. If one wanted a drink or wanted a toy, they always asked if they could get one for the other. These were two children that were very loving and very close, according to relatives and these relatives believed very strongly, as did authorities, that they would be found alive.

WHITFIELD: So you can only imagine the relief that Captain Wolfinger must be feeling that at least one of the two children who have been missing all this time has been found. Have you had a chance to perhaps talk to him from the great many miles distance between you all right now?

CHO: Fredricka, I have tried repeatedly -- in part because I'm here at the Live 8 concert, where nearly a million people are here -- it is nearly impossible to get cell service. I have tried to quite a bit and I've also tried to reach Wendy Price, the aunt of Dylan and Shasta, to no avail so far, but I certainly will be trying throughout the afternoon.

Certainly this is a Fourth of July weekend that the local authorities and certainly the family will never forgot. But as you were saying earlier, it is a bittersweet moment because still there is nine-year-old Dylan who is missing. And so the search goes on now. There are many questions as we go forward, of course -- where do we go from here, in terms of the murder investigation, and where will authorities go in terms of searching for Dylan? I know they're in the process of interviewing Shasta as much as they can, of course. I'm sure they are delicately doing this -- remember this is an eight-year- old girl who has been traumatized for six, nearly seven weeks. So I'm sure they're being very delicate in their investigation with her. And I know she's at the hospital right now.

I'm sure that what this little girl needs right now is a little time with her family, but a lot of information is to be gleaned from Shasta Groene, and certainly from the man who was allegedly with her, 42-year-old Joseph Duncan.

WHITFIELD: You know -- and I remember some of the investigators during the beginning stages of this case also talking about their personal interest in helping to locate these two children -- many of them being parents -- and how difficult it was for them, knowing what had just taken place, this gruesome murder scene and now looking for two kids, ages of kids that many of those in the investigation had at home themselves.

CHO: Oh, I think that any time you hear about a story like this, Fredricka, there are parents across the country who can relate, and people in the media, certainly, were so touched by this. And the community, of course -- you've heard from many people, I know, throughout the past couple of hours, that these people, the local community really never gave up hope. You're talking about the biggest murder investigation that Coeur D'Alene has ever seen. Local authorities said they had never seen anything like this before.

WHITFIELD: And the investigate continues. It continues as a missing person case, as well, as authorities continue to look for nine-year-old Dylan Groene.

We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back, right after this. At the top of the hour hopefully we'll have a press conference that will be taking place as well out of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, to update us on the situation. Back in a moment.



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