COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho – A woman who established a bank account for donations to benefit two northern Idaho siblings after they were kidnapped in a horrific criminal case seven years ago that led to one of their deaths is being sued by the children's father, who says she mismanaged the funds.
Steven Groene filed the lawsuit in state District Court late last week against Brandy M. Hoagland, the Coeur d'Alene Press reported (http://bit.ly/NkDVIM).
Hoagland, the aunt of Shasta and Dylan Groene, was the administrator of a donation fund that was created after the children were kidnapped in May 2005 by Joseph Edward Duncan III. The suit alleges she failed to use the fund's more than $48,000 in the children's best interest.
Duncan abducted 9-year-old Dylan and his then-8-year-old sister, Shasta, after killing their older brother, their mother and her fiance with a hammer at the family's Coeur d'Alene home. He took the children to a remote campsite in western Montana, where he abused and tortured them for weeks before shooting Dylan in the torso and head and burning his body.
Duncan was arrested and Shasta was rescued in July 2005, after Duncan brought the girl back to Coeur d'Alene and a waitress at a Denny's restaurant recognized her and called police.
In the lawsuit, Steven Groene contends that since September 2005, Hoagland has refused demands that she account for the money donated by the public, which has been held in a local bank account. Steven Groene also contends Hoagland failed to preserve and use roughly $48,000 in the children's best interest.
Hoagland did not have a listed home phone number and could not be reached at work. She has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.
Steven Groene is asking a judge to prevent Hoagland from gaining "unjust enrichment" and to require her to restore "all funds misappropriated or mismanaged by her."
Hoagland is the sister of the children's mother, Brenda Groene. Duncan kidnapped the children after he fatally bludgeoned Brenda Groene, the children's 13-year-old brother, Slade, and the mother's fiance, Mark McKenzie.
While Shasta and Dylan were missing, Hoagland set up the donation account on May 20, 2005, with the children as the beneficiaries.
According to the lawsuit, members of the public made deposits to the account exceeding $48,000. It was called the Shasta and Dylan Groene Fund, and it has remained open through at least May 2011, according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Steven Groene contends Hoagland has refused to turn over bank records accounting for roughly $11,000 withdrawn from the account, and that she paid some of the money to third parties who weren't entitled to the cash.
Duncan, a convicted pedophile originally from Tacoma, Wash., was charged with molestation in Minnesota when he skipped bail and drove across the country. He told jurors in his federal case that he was looking for children to attack and selected the Groene family after watching Shasta and Dylan playing in their yard.
Duncan was sentenced to life in prison in Idaho state court for the bludgeoning murders, and he was sentenced to death in Idaho's federal court for his crimes against Shasta and Dylan. Shasta's statements to police also connected Duncan to the 1997 murder of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez in Beaumont, Calif. After Duncan's federal sentencing, he was extradited to California and sentenced to two life terms.
An FBI agent told the federal jury in the Idaho case that shortly after his arrest, Duncan also confessed to killing half-sisters Sammiejo White, 11, and Carmen Cubias, 9, near Seattle in 1996. He has never been charged in their deaths.
Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press, http://www.cdapress.com