By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
In February, 1998, human remains were unearthed near Bothell, outside of Seattle. It appeared to be skeletal remains of two persons. The first set of bones was found by a transient who spotted a skull lying on top of straw that was scattered over a newly graded construction site.
Before the month was out they were identified as the remains of Sammiejo White, 11, and Carmen Joy Cubias, 9, half sisters, who had gone missing in July, 1996. The King’s County M.E. said the victims had been killed probably soon after they disappeared.
The girls were living with their mother Margaret Delaney in the Crest Motel on Aurora Avenue North. The family was transient, never staying long in one place, at least not enough for them to go to school.
Sam White and Leonel Cubias, fathers of the girls, had a hard time keeping track of their daughters, as their mother would move from one cheap motel to another. Besides the girls there were 7 other siblings all living together at the motel.
The places they were staying at were in unsafe neighborhoods. Their last address was the Crest Motel in Room 16. They had moved there the day before the girls vanished. They were last seen on Aurora Avenue which was rife with drug dealing and prostitution.
The girls had left the motel around 10:30 p.m. to beg for food at a Taco Time restaurant down the street, and to bum cigarettes for their 16-year-old brother.
A family friend said both girls were like little mommies left to raise their younger siblings.
When Margaret Delaney returned to the motel the girls were gone, and she waited 3 hours before calling police.
The police believed the girls had run away, even though their mother denied this. She told police the girls didn't have money, but they knew "how to panhandle."
For seven years the case lingered as unsolved, then in 2005, the case was being re-examined for a connection to Joseph Duncan a convicted sex offender and murderer.
On July 2, 2005, Joseph Edward Duncan III was arrested at a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho diner after he was seen with kidnap victim Shasta Groene, age 8. Duncan was later charged with killing Shasta’s mother, brother and her mother’s boyfriend in their Idaho home on May 16, 2005. He was also accused of kidnapping Shasta and her brother Dylan, 9, and sexually abusing them for seven weeks before killing Dylan.
Later he provided the FBI with details about the murder of the two girls but didn’t give a confession. He also talked about another youngster he killed in Southern California in 1997.
In 1978, Duncan raped a 9-year-old boy at gunpoint. He was sent to a juvenile facility where he told the therapist he'd raped 13 boys by the time he was arrested. The next year he stole a car.
In 1980, he stole guns from a neighbor, kidnapped a 14-year-old boy and like the prior incident in 1978, raped him at gunpoint. He received a 20 year sentence, but was paroled 14 years later. Within two years he had violated his parole, but instead of sending him back to prison he only spent a few days in jail for the violation.
It was during this time that he killed Sammiejo White, Carmen Cubias and Anthony Martinez, despite being supervised as part of his parole.
He was returned to prison in 1997, when he was arrested in Missouri for violating his parole.
In 2000, he was released for good behavior and headed to Fargo, North Dakota, however in 2005 he was charged in the molestation of two boys at a playground in Minnesota. This occurred in 2004. His bail was set at $15,000 by a Becker County judge, and he posted bail with the help of a Fargo businessman he had met. Unsurprising he skipped bail and a federal arrest warrant was issued for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
On May 16, 2005 the bodies, of the Groene family were discovered in Idaho. Two of the children, Dylan and Shasta, were missing. Seven weeks later Shasta was recognized at a Denny's restaurant, since her picture had been distributed by law enforcement. Police arrived, and she was reunited with her biological father. Later they found the remains of her brother outside a remote cabin in Lolo National Forest in Montana.
In October, 2006, Duncan pled guilty to first degree murder and kidnapping of 3 persons at the Groene home. He was sentenced to death three times over.
Four months later he pled guilty to the murder and torture of Anthony Martinez, 10, that was taken in 1997.
In March, 2021, Joseph Edward Duncan, 58, died at a hospital in Terra Haute, Indiana, from brain cancer while awaiting execution and serving multiple life sentences in federal prison.
Even though the case of Sammiejo and Carmen is considered solved, it was only done so because Duncan supposedly admitted to the murder, but he was never charged with the crime. The information about the murders came from Shasta Groene who Duncan kidnapped, and according to FBI agents he provided details of the crime that were not known to the public. He described where he beat both girls to death with a crowbar.
In one of the videos shown to the jury during Duncan’s trial, while he’s torturing Dylan Groeme he screams: "The devil is here, boy, the devil himself … The devil likes to watch children suffer and cry!"
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