A Child Survived a Serial Killer — and Now Tells Her Story on Season Premiere of 'People Magazine Investigates'

"My mother was crying," recalls Shasta Groene about the night that changed her life. "Someone's in the house"

She Was 8 When a Man Kidnapped Her and Killed Family. Now Shasta Groene Shares How She Survived It All Courtesy Shasta Groene
Photo: Courtesy Shasta Groene

Shasta Groene recalled having an uneasy feeling that she couldn't shake.

On May 15, 2005, Shasta, then 8, thought she saw someone in her bedroom closet. Frightened, she summoned her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, and he crawled into bed with her so she could fall asleep.

But hours later her mother shook her awake. "My mother was crying," Shasta remembers. "She's like, 'Sissy, you need to wake up. Someone's in the house.'"

She and Dylan went to the family room, where her stepfather Mark and her brother Slade were facedown on the floor with zip ties around their wrists and ankles and duct tape across their mouths. A man dressed in black who was holding a shotgun told Shasta's mother, Brenda, to get on the ground too.

The man, who would later be identified as 42-year-old Joseph Duncan III, bound Shasta's hands and feet and carried her and Dylan outside before returning to the house. "I heard thumping and a grunt in pain," Shasta says through tears. "I didn't know what was going on."

The reality inside the Groene home in rural Wolf Lodge, Idaho, was unimaginable. Duncan killed Shasta's entire family — her mother Brenda Groene; her stepfather Mark McKenzie; her brother Slade, 13 — and then held Shasta and Dylan captive for seven weeks while sexually and physically abusing them. (Duncan would later fatally shoot Dylan.) Eventually, he'd be connected to three previous murders of children.

The terrifying case that rocked the small, idyllic town is featured on tonight's two-hour, premiere episode of the sixth season of People Magazine Investigates, airing tonight on Investigation Discovery and discovery+. (An exclusive clip is shown below.)

"This case profoundly affected this community," says retired Det. Sgt. Brad Maskell, the former lead investigator for the Kootenai County sheriff's department. "To this day, everybody still talks about it."

Now, Shasta is determined to set the record straight — despite the pain that still haunts her. She has vivid memories of the night Duncan, a violent sexual predator out on parole, sneaked into her family's home and turned her world upside down.

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Though she survived weeks of terror, her ongoing recovery from that trauma has been difficult. She physically escaped Duncan, who died last year of brain cancer while serving multiple life sentences on federal death row. Emotionally escaping has been an ongoing struggle.

Shasta is sharing her story in the hopes it will empower other victims of violence, and also serve as her own catharsis.

"You're not your past," she says. "Every day is a new chapter."

See Groene Family Massacre, the two-hour, season 6 premiere of People Magazine Investigates, airing tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery and streaming on discovery+ .

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