Convicted child killer Joseph Duncan has terminal brain cancer

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The man convicted of one of the most brutal crimes in Coeur d’Alene history now has terminal brain cancer, which will likely kill him before his federal death sentence is carried out.

Joseph Duncan was convicted of killing Brenda Groene, Slade Groene, Dylan Groene and Mark McKenzie in 2005. He was also convicted of kidnapping Dylan and Shasta Groene from their home in the Wolf Lodge area just east of Coeur d’Alene. Already a convicted sex offender at the time, Duncan was also linked by DNA to the murder of a 10-year old boy in California. He was convicted of that crime after he was convicted of the Idaho murders and kidnappings.

Duncan has also said he killed two young girls in Seattle, but has not been charged with those crimes.

Duncan has been on federal death row for years. He said he would not participate in an appeal of his case, but the appeal has gone forward.

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In court filings earlier this year, attorneys disclosed that Duncan underwent brain surgery in October of 2020 and was diagnosed with glioblastoma, stage IV brain cancer. According to court records, he has declined chemotherapy and radiation.

“In November 2020, Bureau of Prisons medical staff determined his life expectancy to be 6-12 months…. medical staff discussed end-of-life preparations with Mr. Duncan.”

Duncan’s medical records are attached to the court filing. It said he can take 800 mg of ibuprofen by mouth three times a day when necessary.

“I spoke with the warden regarding having someone help to keep his cell clean once or twice a week,” the doctor wrote in the report dated November 20, 2020. “It might be a little bit much for him to consistently bend over and clean the area considering his balance issues.”

With the Biden administration unlikely to authorize any capital punishment to be carried out, it seems increasingly likely the cancer will kill Duncan before the U.S. government ever does.