True Crime: Joseph Edward Duncan III

Originally posted as a repost from the old site in 2008. I recently looked over this old piece and I was surprised at how good it was. I think it’s time for a re-run. Feel free to comment. Warning: long, runs to 28 pages.

On August 27, 2008, Joseph Edward Duncan III was sentenced to death by a federal court in Idaho after being charged with ten federal charges for the homicide of Dylan Groene, age 9, in Montana in 2005. He served 13 years on death row, but he died on March 28, 2001 of glioblastoma, a brain tumor, before he could be executed.

I don’t know any of the principals in this case, but Thrillseekerman knows Steve Groene and Chris Groene, Doperman knows Chris Groene and not Steve, and Sexmaniacman knows Steve Groene but not Chris. T-man went to elementary school with Steve Groene and his brother, Chris Groene. Steve Groene is the father of Shasta Groene, Dylan Groene and Slade Groene. I called Thrillseekerman, Doperman, and Sexmaniacman to get their recollections of these two guys, who I never really knew. Their recollections are at the end of the article.

Joseph E. Duncan III broke into the victims’ house on May 15, 2005, tied everyone up, and then bludgeoned Slade, 13, his mother Brenda, 39 and his stepfather, Mark McKenzie, 37 to death with a claw hammer. He took Dylan and Shasta so he could torture and molest them.

Police who came upon the scene were stunned by the sight. There was blood and gore everywhere, and the faces were nearly unrecognizable. One officer who came upon the scene was so shocked by the sight that he quit police work for months afterward. An APB went out for Shasta and Dylan.

Duncan took them in a stolen 2000 Red Cherokee jeep with Missouri license plates to a very remote campsite in the Lolo National Forest in Montana and kept them there for a few weeks, having sex with both of them and torturing Dylan. He made a video of the crimes, and the video was shown to jurors and those in the courtroom. He raped Shasta and forced Shasta and Dylan to perform sex acts on each other.

May 2005: Murder of Dylan Groene in the Lolo National Forest, Montana

“The devil is here, boy, the devil himself. The demon couldn’t do what the devil sent him to do so the devil came himself,” Duncan yells in one of the videos. “The devil likes to watch children suffer and cry.”

Duncan cracks sick jokes through the videos.

In one video, Duncan jokes, “They kidnapped me – they won’t let me leave.”

In another video, he cracks, “I shouldn’t be taking pictures of you pulling up your pants like that, young man – people might think I’m a pervert.”

In another video, Duncan asks the kids about their wishes. Dylan says he just wants to go home.

One video showed Duncan raping and torturing Dylan in various ways. At one point, he took Dylan into an old shack, where he forced Dylan to perform a sex on him and whipped him with a belt. Then he told Dylan to stand on a bench, hung a wire around his neck, and masturbated as he watched Dylan nearly die from hanging. “Then Jet took him down and said, ‘Wake up, wake up, wake up,'” Shasta Groene said in a police interview.

She said Dylan screamed when he woke up because he thought he had been in heaven. Duncan then offered the half-dead Dylan an opportunity to watch his “death” by hanging on tape. A little while later, he forced Shasta to drag the half-dead Dylan through the campfire with a rope around his neck, burning him horribly. Then Duncan “accidentally” shot Dylan in the stomach with a shotgun.

Dylan was alive and possibly could have lived for a few hours, though his guts were hanging out. Duncan decided that there was no way to save him, so he shot him in the head. It was later determined that he probably did not shoot Dylan “accidentally” after all. After Dylan was dead, Duncan chopped his body into little pieces and filmed himself forcing Shasta to throw the body parts on the fire. Then he forced Shasta to pick the body parts out of the fire and filmed that too.

Whew. Wow. Whoa.

This must set some sort of a record for evil, but I’m not sure. The FBI did say that this was the first time that they had ever heard of anyone murdering adults just to get at kids, so it does set a depravity record in that sense. Details of whatever he did to Shasta have not been made available yet, but she was definitely raped. Normally, in this sort of thing, the name of the living kid, Shasta, would be kept secret, but her name was already out there as an APB Amber Alert, so the cat was out of the bag.

I guess you are wondering why no one heard all this mess up in the mountains. The makeshift campsite is at the end of a very remote logging road. It’s a one-hour drive down a terrible road to get to the remote site at the bottom of a cliff. It seems like hardly anyone ever goes there.

There are a lot of remote places out in the Western forests where you can stay for weeks at a time and not see another human. One article said the video was shot at a cabin, but I think it was just a campsite. They also went to various other campsites and drove long distances while Duncan bragged to Dylan and Shasta about killing the kids’ Mom, brother, and stepdad.

July 2, 2005: Arrested in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho with Shasta Groene

Later, on July 2, 2005, Duncan went back to a Denny’s restaurant with Shasta in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where she was immediately spotted by a resident who went in and told the manager who then wisely called 9-11. It was 1:30 AM and the cops pulled in with their lights off. Duncan saw the cops and took Shasta into the bathroom with him. He came out later and the police quickly surrounded the table and asked him to come outside. Shasta was taken back to her father her Mom and stepfather were dead.

Steve was briefly considered as a suspect but then they cleared him. They told him that he failed a polygraph, but lots of innocents do. They also suspected Steve’s eldest son, 18. They gave him a polygraph also and told him he failed too. Good thing neither one gave a fake confession in the midst of those interrogations.

The son was also into drugs – I bet meth – had a significant criminal record, and was most recently in jail for burglary. He said that that imprisonment was going to make him go straight.

Brenda Groene and Mark McKenzie were also drug users, but they were primarily recreational users. Brenda was a good mother. Initially, drugs were thought to be involved in the murders. Meth and pot were found in the systems of both Brenda and Mark. The couple ran with biker types who are in abundance in this area. Brenda had a criminal record for possession of drug paraphernalia and had served time for this offense.

Robert Roy Lutner was an original suspect in the case since he had a criminal record for relatively minor offenses and owed Mark and Brenda $2,000. They thought he killed them over the financial dispute. Further, he had visited them on the evening of Sunday the 15th, when the murders occurred. He turned himself in immediately, passed a polygraph, and was let go.

After he took the kids, Duncan was spotted in a sporting goods store with them in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, asking for directions to Libby, Montana. An APB went out but they were nowhere to be found.

Soon before he was caught, a video camera caught Duncan and Shasta entering what looks like a 7-11 about 40 miles outside of Coeur D’Alene. The girl looks mad and has her arms folded angrily across her chest. They buy something, get back in a red jeep, and leave. This footage was not discovered until later. Soon afterward, they were caught at the Denny’s in Coeur D’Alene.

Police discovered that the man was Joseph Edward Duncan III, a 43 year old fugitive sex offender from Fargo, North Dakota. He had recently been charged with molesting a 7 year old boy he knew who lived near him. He was born, one of five in a military family, in Fort Bragg, Virginia, in 1963. His parents soon moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he grew up. He was described as lonely and displaced in high school, especially after his parents’ divorce in 1979. He soon dropped out of high school. He engaged in sex at age 8 with two of his sisters. They apparently initiated it. What this had to do with his later offenses, I have no idea.

1975: Age 12, Arrested in Tacoma, Washington for Rape of a 5 Year Old Boy

He committed his first serious offense at age 12, when he raped a 5 year old boy, but he was not caught. In this way, he resembles Ted Bundy, who probably committed his first homicide of an eight-year-old girl who delivered the papers in his neighborhood at age 14. Bundy was never charged with this offense.

1978: age 15, Arrested in Tacoma, Washington for Rape of a 9 Year Old Boy

By age 15, he was charged with raping a 9 year old boy and sent to juvey. There he admitted that he had bound and raped six boys already.

1979: Age 16, Had Already Raped 13 Young Boys in Tacoma, Washington

He later said had already raped 13 younger boys by the time he was 16.

1980: Age 17 Arrested in Tacoma, Washington for Auto Theft

The following year, he was arrested for stealing a car.

1980: Age 17, Sentenced in Tacoma, Washington to 20 Years in Prison for Rape of a 14 Year Old Boy at Gunpoint

At age 17, he was arrested, charged and sentenced to 20 years in prison (apparently as an adult) for raping a 14 year old boy at gunpoint. The tortures that he put the boy through were similar to those seen on the Dylan Groene tape.

At the time, he was diagnosed as a psychopath, or antisocial personality disorder under the current rubric. In my opinion, knowing little about his upbringing, he is a pure psychopath. This condition is largely genetic. They are just born bad from seemingly Day One. This condition is impossible to treat, though some of them burn out and often descend in alcoholism and depression in their 40’s. Duncan is clearly not one of those.

He was paroled 14 years later at age 33 and sent to a halfway house in Seattle. A man named David Woelfert had testified at the parole board that Duncan was no threat whatsoever. He had loaned Duncan $3,000 and had found a place for him at the halfway house. Woelfert was also homosexual, and for a while, Duncan and Woelfert had a gay relationship. It looks like Woelfert was conned too. In 1996, Duncan was released from the halfway house.

1996: Sentenced in Seattle, Washington to One Month for Parole Violation

Almost immediately after his release from the halfway house, he violated parole by using marijuana and possessing a firearm. He was given 30 days and released.

July 6, 1996: Disappearance and Subsequent Murders of Carmen Cubias, 9, and Sammiejo White, 11, in Seattle, Washington

Apparently soon afterwards, 9-year-old Carmen Cubias and her 11-year-old half-sister, Sammiejo White, went missing from the motel where they were staying with their homeless family. A while before, Duncan was living only three blocks away from the motel where they vanished. These girls later turned up dead, and they were definitely killed by Duncan.

The girls were last seen by their 16-year-old brother at 8:30 pm on July 6, 1996 after they left the Crest Motel in Seattle, where they were staying with older and younger siblings and their mother. The girls were used to be out at all hours and knew their way around the neighborhood very well.
They said they were going to the Taco Time where they were going to bum some spare change so they could eat and get some money for a pack of cigarettes for their brother. Apparently they never made it.

It turns out that Duncan has confessed to Shasta Groene that he killed two little girls in Seattle. He made the same confession to investigators, but he said he did not know their names. At the time of their disappearance, Duncan was living and working in Bothell, Washington, where the girls’ bones were found almost two years later in February, 1998, by a transient staying in an abandoned barn. They had both been murdered violently, but the details could not be ascertained. But both of their skulls had been crushed.

After Duncan was arrested for the Idaho killings, a woman came forward and said that she had worked at the Quality Food Mart in Bothell that summer. That summer she repeatedly saw a man she now says was Duncan come into the store to buy stuff accompanied by a frightened little girl, who she now identifies as Carmen Cubias. Once again, we see that Duncan kept his victim alive for a long time, molesting and possibly torturing them before killing them.

When talking to investigators, Duncan revealed enough details of the crimes, without confessing, to convince the cops that he killed the two girls. After he confessed, his lawyer convinced him to clam up about any other crimes he may have committed.

March 26, 1997: Disappearance and Murder of Deborah Palmer, 7, in Oak Harbor, Washington

On March 26, 1997, Deborah Palmer, age 7, disappeared on her way to school in Oak Harbor, Washington, about 50 miles away from Seattle. Palmer disappeared while walking the two blocks from her Kettle Street apartment home to school.

Duncan had an appointment in Seattle to take a polygraph test at an unknown time. Oak Harbor would have been a 1 1/2 hour drive away. Palmer may have been killed in Deception Pass State Park, near where her body washed up.

The week before, around March 19, Duncan had tested positive for marijuana, which would have violated his parole. Eleven days later, he quit his Bothell job, stole his girlfriend’s car, and fled his Seattle home for California to visit his father in Pahrump, Nevada. That was the very same day that Deborah Palmer’s body washed up on a Pacific Ocean beach seven miles away from Oak Harbor, and the story was all over the news.

She had been raped and strangled. The previous day, Deborah’s backpack and jacket were found at a gravel pit. There is no direct evidence linking Duncan to this homicide. There are also suspicions that a family member was involved.

April 1997: Disappearance and Murder of Anthony Martinez, 10, in Beaumont, California

After he fled to California, he killed again. This time, he took off from his Dad’s house in Vista and went to Beaumont, California, where he approached 10 year old Anthony Martinez and his brother who were playing in alley behind their home. He asked them to help find a lost cat, and they declined. Duncan then put a knife to Anthony’s throat and shoved him into a white car.

On April 19, Anthony’s nude body was found in a shallow grave 110 miles away in the desert near Indio, California. He had been raped and beaten to death and his skull had been crushed.

After his arrest in the Idaho killings, Duncan confessed to interrogators that he had killed a little boy in California. He also quite closely resembled the composite drawing of the suspect in the Martinez case. Cops then looked into the Martinez case and amazingly found a match for a thumbprint on the duct tape used to bind Anthony’s body and Duncan’s prints.

August 27, 1997: Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Parole Violation in Kansas City, Missouri

In May, Duncan was back in Northern California. On June 2, he met Dr. Richard Wacksman (see below) at a coffeehouse in San Francisco. At this point, he seemed to have been living on the streets. Four months later, on August 27, 1997, Duncan was arrested by the FBI at his sister’s house in Kansas City, Missouri for a parole violation and sent to prison for three years.

At the hearing for the parole violation, a Fargo, North Dakota doctor, Dr. Richard Wacksman, testified that Duncan was not dangerous anymore and that upon his release, he could stay at Wacksman’s home in Fargo. The parole board disagreed and sent him away. Upon his release on July 21, 2000, he moved to Fargo, North Dakota, but I believe it was not long before he started killing again.

After his release, in 2000, he visited Wacksman at his home in Fargo. The neighbors found out about it and confronted Wacksman. Duncan did not return to Wacksman’s home, and Wacksman soon moved to Florida. Duncan then visited Wacksman numerous times at his Florida home, where Duncan liked to scuba dive.

I do not think this Wacksman fellow is a bad guy. Psychopaths are often very charming and have the ability to convince all sorts of decent people that they are really ok, including Dr. Wacksman. However, it should be noted that Wacksman, while married and with family, was bisexual. It seems certain that Wacksman and Duncan had a homosexual relationship.

After he moved to Fargo, Duncan began attending North Dakota State University there, working on a BA in Computer Science. He would have graduated in May 2005, but he decided to go on a homicide spree instead. At the university, he worked in software development for both the college and a local business called iCat.

He also worked as a teaching assistant at Edmonds Community College where he taught introductory programming courses. He frequented at least one Korean Personals site where he said he was looking for “something more than just sex.” At the time, he was also taking karate lessons at the university (photo from his karate class in Spring 2003). While Duncan was living in Fargo from 2000-2005, I believe that he did not stop killing.

February 12, 2001: Disappearance and Probable Murder of Steven Earl Kraft, Jr., 12, in Benton Township, Michigan

On February 12, 2001, Steven Earl Kraft, Jr., age 12, disappeared while walking his dogs between 8-9 PM about 1/2 block from his home. The dogs were found later, but Steven is still missing. Duncan may have been involved in this kidnapping and probable homicide.

On April 21, 2001, Duncan set up his Jazzi-Jet gay website on the Pridesites gay website. Although the links have been deleted, on one page he was shown in a black dress and makeup talking about how much he liked to get fucked in the ass. Oh, well.

Duncan talked about how much gay sex he had in Walla Walla Prison, getting screwed by 50 different guys in there, getting gangbanged once by seven guys, being the “queen of the prison,” and being owned by a great big Black inmate named “Al”, all while posing in suggestive gay poses. On another deleted photo, Jazzi-Jet was once again done up like a woman. In one picture, he was masturbating, but you couldn’t see that very well. He touched up one of the pics to make it look like he has breasts.

On February 12, 2002, Duncan created this online resume. He was obviously highly intelligent and it looks like he was also a good computer programmer (I never could figure out Java programming myself). In March 2002, he created this page of a fake Time Magazine and Duncan praising Arnold Schwarzenegger.

July 12, 2002: Disappearance and Murder of Russell Turcotte, 19, in Grand Forks, North Dakota

Russell Turcotte, age 19, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa, was last seen at a truck stop in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on July 12, 2002, after spending the night with friends in Fargo, North Dakota. He was returning to his home in Wolf Point, Montana from a Rainbow Gathering in Michigan.

Surveillance cameras have now revealed that Duncan was at that truck stop hours after Turcotte was there. Turcotte was hitchhiking with a backpack home on a desolate stretch of Highway 2 west of Grand Forks at around 2 AM. I believe he was picked up by Duncan and taken to a side road near Grand Forks Air Force Base. He was probably raped there. He was then taken to Devils Lake, 90 miles west of Grand Forks, where his partially nude body was dumped and covered with brush. His possessions vanished, probably tossed into one of the area’s many rivers and lakes. His skull had been crushed.

The previous day, his mother had wired him some money. He was living with a girlfriend and running low on cash. Months later, in November 2002, his skeleton was discovered by a rancher in a clump of trees.

Objections have been made to the notion that Duncan committed this crime. First is that he would have had to drive 85 miles north from Fargo to Grand Forks and then another 90 miles west to dump the body.
However, I believe that since 1997, Duncan had started killing quite a ways away from where he lived. His first two killings seem to have pretty close to where he lived. The Seattle girls were abducted while Duncan was living in Bothell, 20 miles away.

Deborah Palmer (assuming he killed her) was killed in Oak Harbor, 30 miles from his home in Bothell, and her body was found nearby. He’s clearly capable of driving 80 miles away from his home to kill someone. Similarly, Beaumont was about 85 miles away from his father’s house in Vista where Duncan was staying.

Anyway, the surveillance camera had Duncan at the truck stop within hours of when Turcotte was there, so the distance question seems to be ruled out. Furthermore, July 12 was a Friday, so Turcotte was last seen on a Friday night. I believe that Duncan picked him up hitchhiking about 2 AM on the morning of Saturday, July 13 and killed him soon afterward. At some point he drove 90 miles east to dump the body.

Duncan was a college student at this time and was probably working too. It’s certainly possible that he had the whole weekend off. He had lots of free time and was always traveling to the Lakes Country in Minnesota to go scuba diving. Also, Turcotte’s skull had been crushed in the same manner that Anthony Martinez, Sammiejo White, Carmen Cubias, Slade Groene and Mark McKenzie had been dispatched.

Another question about the Turcotte killing is that Turcotte seems old for Duncan’s tastes. However, it has been pointed out that the 19 year old looked very young for his age. A photo of him taken before his death seemed to belie that, but another picture taken by his girlfriend shortly before he died showed him very thin, unhealthy, and quite young-looking.

Hunter Bear, an American Indian retired university professor and leftwing activist, had a webpage up about Turcotte. Here is a description of who he thought the killer is, written in 2003 before anyone knew about Duncan:

I continue to feel that Russ’ killer is an Anglo, maybe in his late 30s or early 40s, a so-termed “professional” person with a quite good, reassuring kind of car and out-of-state license plates. It’s obvious that he is a criminal psychopath.

Not bad, huh? At the time he wrote that, Duncan was 40 years old (!), White, and though not a professional, he could certainly come off as one. It seems like he liked to drive nice cars too. About the out of state plates, I have no idea. Hunter Bear said that the cops did not try very hard to find the Turcotte’s killer, at one point saying that they had no interest in a routine store surveillance camera tape that filmed Turcotte at the last place he was seen.

Hence, the tape was destroyed. Hunter Bear made a good case that the population and the police in North Dakota and Idaho were very racist towards American Indians. We don’t see much of it out here in California, but it seems to be more of a big deal back there. Some people are still looking at Seattle, Tacoma, or Portland as the connection between the killer and Turcotte, but I am pretty certain that this is a Duncan crime.

This is a Web Archive cache of the original Jet Gazette, Jet’s own online magazine that he made all about…himself! This page is dated July 29, 2002, and that would have been about 17 days after Turcotte was killed.

March 26, 2003: Disappearance and Murder of Dalton Mesarchik, 7, in Streator, Illinois

On March 26, 2003, Dalton Mesarchik, 7, of Streator, Illinois vanished from the front yard of his home. His body was found the next day in creek. His skull had been crushed with a hammer. That’s Duncan’s style. In June 2003, Duncan began going on trips to Minnesota and Michigan to scuba dive. He went on dives all summer.

On October 3, 2003, Duncan was visited by three police officers who accuse him of harassing women downtown. The women knew who he is from the Sex Offender database, and they had photos of him. He was accused of repeatedly asking them out and not going away when they told him to. That doesn’t sound like much of a crime to me. The cops said they knew who he was and they watched him all the time. Guess they did not watch him enough. He wrote about this incident later on his blog, The Fifth Nail.

Here is the final edition of the Jet Gazette, with photos of his scuba diving trips and videos that he made.

February 15, 2004: Disappearance and Probable Murder of Justin Phillip Edwards, 13, in Casper, Wyoming

Between late February 14 and early February 15, 2004, Justin Phillip Edwards, 13, disappeared. He was living at R. L Mills Home, a state-run facility, located at 116 East “H” Street in Casper, Wyoming since the summer of 2003. He was 5′ tall and weighed only 100 pounds and was retarded. He had the mind of a 6 year old. In his blog entry of February 16, Duncan said he went skiing for the first time that weekend, alone. Some think he may have been involved in Edwards’ disappearance.

July 3, 2004 Molestation of a Boy, 7 and Attempted Molestation of Another in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

On July 3, 2004, Duncan molested a 7 yr old boy and tried to molest another boy at a school playground. He had a video camera with him. He was not caught until later.

March 4, 2005 Charged in Minnesota for the Molestation Incidents

In March 4, 2005, Duncan was charged with molesting a 7 year old boy and attempting to molest the boy’s young friend in Detroit Lakes, Becker County, Minnesota. On April 5, a judge set his bail at $15,000. This was the July 2004 incident above.

The same day, a Fargo businessman, Joe Crary, wrote a check for that amount to the court and bailed out Duncan. Crary said he befriended Duncan when they both rode their bikes on bike trails in Fargo. Somehow, Duncan gave off the impression of being polite, soft-spoken, and seemed sincere about wanting to turn his life around. Duncan also seemed sincere that he was innocent of the Minnesota charges.

I will never understand how psychopaths fool people like this, but they do it all the time. The ability to con and lie with a straight face in these people is amazing. Crary is now maligned, but I feel he was just another good person that this psychopath conned. It should be noted, however, that Crary is apparently a homosexual who had a sexual relationship with Duncan beginning in early January 2004.

After being bailed out, Duncan made plans for his crime spree. He purchased night vision goggles and a video camcorder at a Walmart. He also purchased a shotgun, shells, and a claw hammer. On April 15, 2005, he rented a 2005 red Jeep Cherokee in St. Paul, Minnesota.

After the rental agreement was up, he never turned it back in, and on May 4, auto theft charges were filed against him. On the same day, the key tag to the stolen car was found in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Wyoming, so Duncan must have been here at some point in his travels.
Between those two dates, Duncan traveled all the way to the far southwest portion of Missouri, where it meets Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. There, on April 27, he stole license plates off a vehicle and placed them on his vehicle.

Then he continued his travels. No one knows where he went during this period, but I believe that he was in Spokane using GPS to stalk young children at a preschool, Kindermusik, which has kids from toddlers up to age 7. While in flight, a warrant was issued for his arrest in Fargo for failure to appear in a court date stemming from the Minnesota case.
He stopped in the Wolf Lodge area eight miles east of Coeur d’Alene. This post from Duncan’s horrifying blog, The Fifth Nail, was somehow posted from Wolf Lodge just four days before he committed the Idaho crimes.

May 13, 2005 Murders of Brenda Groene, Slade Groene, and Mark McKenzie in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

On May 12 or 13, he ended up on Frontage Road at the home where the crimes occurred. He spent the next two or three days scoping out the house, and on Sunday night, he entered the home with gloves, night vision goggles, a claw hammer, and a shotgun.

He pointed the gun and Brenda, Mark, and Slade and tied them up or forced them to tie each other up. Brenda Groene called Shasta down to the living room from where she had been sleeping. Dylan also came downstairs. Duncan quickly hustled Shasta and Dylan outside and into his van. Then he went back in to kill the others. With blows of the claw hammer, he dispatched them.

Shasta heard Mark scream, then she saw Slade try to run out of the house, wounded. He was hauled back in and dispatched. The kids in the van did not witness the killings, but Duncan later told them how he had killed her family. He told her that the name of the hammer was a Fatmax and she learned to call him “Jet” for his initials, Joseph Edward Duncan.

After his arrest, Duncan started blogging again with the help of others from inside prison. The blog is here. Here is an undated picture of Jet.
Here are two awesome time lines (Timeline One, Timeline Two) on Duncan’s life on the great The Cellar blog which is devoted to this case. This is a website Duncan made, the usual whining stuff about how terribly society treats convicts.

I interviewed my friends Thrillseekerman, Doperman, and Sexmaniacman about Steve Groene, the father of the three child victims and Chris Groene, his brother. All these guys, Doperman, Thrillseekerman, Sexmaniacman, grew up together with me in Southern California, and we all ran with the same crowd. They’re scattered to the five winds now, but all still keep in touch by phone and Internet.

I can’t say where they are, but they’re all still in the USA! I grew up with all of them, but I don’t remember Steve Groene or Chris Groene. I think the Groenes and I knew some of the same people, but I don’t remember the Groenes specifically.

Thrillseekerman shared his reminiscences about the Groenes:

Hi Bob, this case really wears on my mind. It’s amazing that I know this guy, and I know his brother, Chris, too. I haven’t seen Steve in 27 years, and I haven’t seen Chris in probably 25-26 years. Doperman knows Chris but I don’t think he knows Steve.

We all grew up together, Steve, Chris, Sexmaniacman, Doperman, and me, Thrillseekerman! And all the rest of the gang! And you, Bob! Ha ha! I heard about the case and saw the strange name, Groene, and wondered if it was him.

I saw his pic and knew it was him, though at the time I had not seen him in 24 years. He looked like he’d had a hard life; I don’t know if there is any better way to put it. His sister now says he already had cancer at the time. I don’t know enough to comment. Life’s hard on all of us in one way or another. Hang in there, Steve!

Steve was into drugs when I knew him, but then so was I! Ha ha! We all were! Ha ha! I think I went to grade school with the guy in Orange County and he was in my grade, but I’m not entirely sure.

I never really knew him that well, but I went to see him play with a blues band at a party in an industrial park one night in 1980. He’s a damn fine blues musician and I have good memories of that party. I was drinking Heinekens and later on smoking some dope.

Later I got to know Steve better, and somehow in 1981 I was buying Thai weed from him. I realize that sounds bad, but I was a dealer too! For many years! Ha ha. All of us – my friends and I – were drug users and dealers for many years. Ha ha! Plus, Steve sold me some damn good Thai weed too! Eat your hearts out, puritans!

Steve was working in the carnivals, traveling all around as a carny, was in with the biker crowd, and he was doing methamphetamine, but I don’t think he was doing very much. He was just a recreational user. Back in those days, the only people doing meth were bikers and carnies, people like that. Now meth is this huge deal.

He used to come over once in a while, mostly to sell me pot. I was just a pothead at the time. That’s all I know about Steve Groene and dope. Pothead, occasional meth user. But that was Summer 1981, and I never saw him again. I won’t guess about the rest of his life.

I remember he came over once. I was living in an apartment and there was this young guy staying there. He was really mentally ill and he needed a place to stay. He was living on the couch. Ha ha! There was a guitar case owned by this guy, a great guitarist who was going through a manic episode.

There were cigarette burns all up and down the case, and I pointed to them, shocked, then to the guy in the midst of the manic episode. Steve gave a smile, of sadness,  wisdom, truth, and life itself. And then he said, “That’s the blues, man.” That’s right, Steve, you got it, man. The blues is life, and life is the blues. Ain’t that so true now, though? Damn.

I realize that I may be trashing his reputation here, but Steve has already admitted to being a heavy drug user as a younger man. Besides, what’s wrong with being a doper? Ha ha! I’m 50 years old, and I’m still a stoner! By the way, can you get me any good pot? Ha ha!

I want to point out that Steve Groene was always the nicest guy to me, a real warm and kindhearted person, always was. I value that, and I’ll always remember him for that.

I also knew Chris Groene, too.

That handsome face, beautiful long hippie surfer hair, and words of honey – no wonder the girls ate him up! Ha ha! Chris was a doper too, a pothead! Ha ha! We all were! He was a juvenile delinquent as a kid, but hey, a lot of us were. Even me! Ha ha! A nice, friendly, charming delinquent. I think Chris was probably a better thief than I was, though. Ha ha! I never was good at stealing.

Chris was also a real nice and warmhearted guy the whole time I knew him. I guess he outgrew that delinquent stuff. I still saw him later, into the early 1980’s, and he was still a kind, warmhearted person. I understand he’s got a really good job now.

I see in a recent pic Steve’s got himself a really nice looking new girlfriend. And he’s still a blues musician, which he always was. He’s a damn good musician, too.
I’m amazed that Steve has appeared to hold up pretty well in all this. Two of his kids and his ex-wife were brutally murdered, and his daughter was kidnapped and molested. But in the last pic I saw of him, he seems to be holding up. I think I would have snapped a long time ago.

All of us, me, Doperman, Chris, Steve, and all our friends, and you, Bob! Ha ha! We were bad boys, rebels, longhairs, surfers, stoners, mavericks, and trillseekers. Badass middle class dopesmoking White boys! Ha ha! We were White Punks On Dope ! Ha ha! Those were the days, man.

I’ll always remember Steve and Chris Groene. Whatever else they’ve been in their interesting lives, they were never mean. They both have hearts as big as the ocean. You don’t see that a lot in this world. Even, with the ravages of time and an unknowable future, if my heart becomes cold and hard, there will always be a tiny warm place there set aside just for Steve and Chris Groene.

Steve and Chris Groene, presente!

Doperman reminisced about Chris Groene:

I was working at the local elementary school as a janitor when I was 16. It was 1974. One night Chris, then age 15, came up to me and wanted me to give him access to the auditorium so Chris could steal a microphone. I guess Chris was a musician too? He almost talked me into it, but I eventually chickened out.

Chris was more of a charming type, and he had natural good looks, really long hair, and he got all kinds of girls and women. He could charm the poison right out of a cobra. This dude had style, man! He was one slick guy! I liked Chris Groene, Bob.

He was always really good to me, even when he was trying to convince me to participate with him in a juvenile crime! I think he grew out of that delinquent stuff, and I hear he has a great job now. You go, Chris! A ghost from your past!

Sexmaniacman recalled Steve Groene. The only recollection he had was one night 30 years ago when he was out of mind on LSD:

“I remember one time, it was the summer of 1978, it was around 10 PM, and I was flying on LSD! I think I was with my buddy Craig L. Anyway, we were headed to this party at Alan B’s place. We came to the street where the party was, and there were cops there! I was on acid, driving a car, and I looked right into this cop’s eyes! With my huge saucer eyeballs! Scary!

Well, we went inside, and I was flying on fucking LSD! Oh man! Steve Groene was there! He had this big, friendly, warm smile, enough to light up the whole room, like always. It was Alan B’s party, an Italian guy. A hippie and an acidhead! Ha ha!

Well, I walked in and there’ was this beautiful Mexican chick, about 20 years old, sitting on the couch. She was kinda big, but not too big. Just big enough, baby! Lotsa curves! Well, she was looking at me the whole time. I was kinda looking back, but I didn’t really know what to do.

So after a while Steve Groene said, way too loud, “Hey! Sexmaniacman! Why don’t you get her a beer, Sexguy? She wants you to get her a beer, Sexman!” He was smiling and laughing, but he was also like, “You idiot! Pick up on the chick! She likes you! Go for it, dummy! Like, duh!” So I go and get her a Heineken. I forget what happened after that. I fucked up; I don’t think I even got her number. I was so stupid sometimes.

Later that night, I was in Alan’s bedroom. I told him I was on LSD. He said, “Hey, Sexmaniacman! Let’s do some more acid and go to Black Star Canyon and fry all night!” I opened up a box full of blue LSD tablets. But we never did it.

I love Steve Groene, Bob, I really do. He’s a good person, and his heart is solid gold. He ran with a rough crowd, and he looked like a pretty tough guy, but he was good people all the way. A shout out to Steve Groene! Blast from the past!

"Oil Patch Blues," by Alpha Unit

The Williston Basin lies beneath parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan. A rock unit called the Bakken formation occupies about 200,000 square miles of it. Originally described in 1953, it’s named after Henry Bakken, a farmer in Williston, North Dakota. He owned the land where the first drilling rig revealed the rock layers in 1951. As you may have heard, there are significant oil reserves in the Bakken.
The US Geological Survey has estimated that there are about 3.65 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken. More recent estimates suggest there could be up to 18 billion barrels.
The oil is wrapped in layers of shale, which initially frustrated extraction attempts. But petroleum engineers devised a fracturing method that overcame this problem. What they do is drill down and then horizontally into the rock, then pump water, sand, and chemicals into the hole to crack the shale and allow the oil to flow up. It was first used in 2007, quite successfully.
The result has been a population boom as people from neighboring areas, other parts of the country, and even overseas have rushed into North Dakota and Montana in pursuit of oil field jobs. John McChesney paints a picture of how life has changed for some residents of North Dakota.

Imagine you live in a small rural town worried for years about depopulation, and suddenly, overnight, the population doubles, and the newcomers are thousands of young men without families. Imagine that you live in a tiny town with one main street that doubles as a state highway.
That’s the situation in New Town, N.D., population 1,500 – at least, it was a couple of years ago. Today it’s anybody’s guess how many people live here, and no one knows how many 18-wheelers roll through every day, either. They just know it never stops.

McChesney says that for the people of New Town, it seems that every big tank truck in America is on the road here, making tens of thousands of trips a day hauling water, fracking fluid, wastewater and crude oil – and tearing up the roads.
It’s been described by one county official as the complete industrialization of western North Dakota. And it’s placing an incredible strain on the community there. Dan Kalil, chairman of the Williams County Commission, told McChesney:

They’re consuming all our resources. They’re consuming all our people looking for jobs. All the employee base is used up. Our roads system is being used up. All our water is being used up. All our sewage systems are being used up. They’re overwhelmed. All of our leadership time as local public officials is consumed with this.

And for the newcomers, life in the Bakken isn’t exactly what they had in mind, either. They often arrive with no money and nowhere to live. There’s not enough housing for them. Homeless shelters and churches are taking in some of the job-seekers but the need is overwhelming.
Some of the men are sleeping in their cars. Some have sleeping bags they roll out in the woods or in abandoned buildings. There are camps where people park RV’s they’re living in. But the water pipes and waste tanks on standard RV’s can’t handle the freezing temperatures. Super-insulated campers and trailers are just as hard to find as actual housing.
And let’s not forget: this is North Dakota, after all. One taste of winter in the Bakken sends some job-seekers back to where they came from.
In the meantime, housing prices are higher than they’ve ever been. Some of the local residents can’t afford to pay rent anymore. And crime used to be nearly nonexistent. Now crime rates have spiked across western North Dakota and eastern Montana, with an increase in vagrancy, “drunken and disorderly” charges, burglary, assault, property crimes, and prostitution.
“Men need servicing just as much as their machines,” one oil patch worker told Adam Luebke.
There have even been a couple of violent crimes that have made headlines in the area. A hitchhiker was wounded in a drive-by shooting while on US Highway 2, a major route in and out of the oil patch. A teacher from the oil patch town of Sidney, Montana, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by two Colorado men on their way to the Bakken.
The oil industry is aware of what locals are going through and is making some PR efforts to keep people on their side, but their efforts aren’t as successful as they’d like. As John McChesney explained:

Back in New Town at a gathering of a few local residents, we met rancher Donnie Nelson, who had just paid $7 for a gallon of milk, one example of a price inflation here. He says patience here is wearing thin.
“Just about anybody I talk to that’s a neighbor – and some of them are getting wealthy – are sick of it. It’s never going to be the same in this country, and they’re starting to realize that we had it kind of good, even though we weren’t No. 1 in oil and we weren’t the No. 1 state economically,” Nelson says. “We had a good life up here.”

Wolverines in the Upper Midwest

Repost from the old site.
Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Oregon, Washington, Idaho (here and here), Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. There are also five posts on the wolverine in California.
This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Rediscovered After 85 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the Upper Midwest. Until recently, wolverines had been extinct in the Upper Midwest for 85-200 years.
However, one was photographed recently in Michigan. Furthermore, there have been some tantalizing sightings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota and even a few in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri in recent years. It is distinctly possible the wolverines may be reclaiming some of their historical territory in the Upper Midwest. If so, this is fascinating indeed.
In 2004, a wolverine was photographed in Ubly, Michigan, 90 miles north of Detroit. They were extirpated from Michigan almost 200 years ago.
DNA testing of this wolverine showed that it was from Alaska. How it got from Alaska to Michigan is anyone’s guess. On March 14, 2010, this wolverine was found dead in Sanilac County, Michigan, south of where it was originally sighted in Ubly.
There have been other sightings in Lower Michigan. In November 1958, a wolverine was seen near Cadillac, Michigan by a boy who was deer hunting. A wolverine was sighted around 1998-2000 in Tawas, Michigan. In August 2009, a wolverine was spotted by motorists twice in short period of time just outside of Alpena, Michigan which is on the shore of Lake Huron in the far north of the Thumb near the Upper Peninsula. In November 2009, four people spotted a wolverine outside of West Brach, Michigan in the north of the Thumb south of Huron National Forest.
These wolverines could have come down from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because there are wolverine sightings there. Or possibly they could have come from Southern Ontario near Port Huron, though that area is densely populated. There is known to be a population in Ontario, albeit in the northern part.
The sightings on the Upper Peninsula have been in Delta County, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the Keweenaw Peninsula. I assume that the Upper Peninsula population came from Ontario, possibly across the St. Mary’s River, if it freezes over in wintertime.

A forest road in Delta County, Michigan. This road is in Escanaba State Forest. A wolverine was sighted here in an unverified sighting sometime between 1999-2004. During this period, there was about one wolverine sighting a year in Michigan, all from the Upper Peninsula.
The forests here have been changed massively from 100 years ago, when most of the White Pine was logged off. I assume what we have here is Eastern second-growth forest coming back in after the old growth was logged off. This second-growth explosion is fueling an increase in wildlife numbers, especially deer, all over the East Coast.
Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This area is located at the far east end of the UP near Ontario. The town of Paradise is nearby, as is Whitefish Bay. If the St. Mary’s River is frozen over, wolverines may well come down from Ontario to the UP. The part of Ontario near Sault Saint Marie is pretty sparsely populated. An unverified sighting of a wolverine was reported here in 2002.

 
There was also an unverified wolverine sighting in the UP on November 21, 2001 at 3 PM, crossing Highway M-64 1 mile south of Silver City in Ontonagon County. In August 2008, a wolverine was spotted in the UP in the garden of the Big Bay Lighthouse on Lake Superior.
In the late 2000’s, there was rash of wolverine sightings around Babbitt, Minnesota, which is near Ely in the far northeastern part of the state near Canada. A tiny lynx population has recently also been confirmed there. The sightings around Babbitt appear to be genuine. Babbitt is surrounded by the Superior National Forest and there are frequent sightings of bears and even wolves in the area, even inside city limits.
In addition, there was one documented sighting in northeastern Minnesota in 1965, but details are lacking. In 1974 there was a report of a wolverine in a hay field in north-central Minnesota, near the North Woods. There was also a sighting on Koochiching County on the Minnesota border with Canada in 1982. That sighting was deemed credible.
In early 2008, there have been reports of dog and horse kills in and around Rollag, Minnesota lately. Certain things about the killings indicate that a wolverine may be doing this. Rollag is far to the north, getting up near the North Woods. It is east of and not far from Fargo, North Dakota.
There is also a report of a wolverine captured on a security camera in 2005-2006 at a Ford dealership in the town of Zumbrota in Southeast Minnesota. This land is very much prairie.
In 1991, a baby wolverine was seen dying by the side of the road on Highway 232 near Lake Nichols close to Cotton, Minnesota. The motorists did not know how rare it was or else they would have kept the carcass. In 1999, a wolverine was spotted by a canoeist in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota on the border of Ontario, Canada.
In November 2004, a wolverine was seen eating a gut pile from a dead deer near Askov, Minnesota. In 2005, a wolverine was spotted in the Tamarack National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. In Summer 2006, a fisherman fishing in the Narrows between Big and Little Cut Foot Sioux Lakes in Northern Minnesota saw a wolverine. He was able to watch it for 15 minutes until it caught his scent and left. In Summer 2008, a wolverine was spotted in the forest of Eagles Nest, Minnesota, south of Ely and north of Tower. In Fall 2008, a hunter spotted a wolverine in the Black Brook Swamp east of Camp Ripley, Minnesota.
In 2010, a deer hunter saw a wolverine in Douglas County, Minnesota. Another wolverine was photographed near there five years later. In July 2010, a wolverine was seen by a motorist at night on US 53 ten miles south of International Falls, Minnesota. In Summer 2010, a wolverine was seen outside of Chisholm, Minnesota near Superior State Park.
In July 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing Highway 232 near Lake Nichols close to Cotton, Minnesota.
On January 12, 2012, a wolverine was spotted somewhere in Southern Minnesota. Someone went out to their car late at night, and a wolverine was by the garage. Tracks were found the very next day. On July 12, 2012, two hunters saw a wolverine while driving on the Dick’s Parkway road 13 miles south of Warroad, Minnesota. The GPS location was given as 48 42.131, -95 20.566. On October 20, 2012 at midnight, a wolverine was seen on someone’s driveway in Ham Lake, Minnesota.
At 6 PM on On October 13, 2013, a wolverine was seen in the Superior National Forest crossing Pike Lake Road on the east side of Pike Lake between Lutsen and Grand Marais, Minnesota. This is seven miles from Lake Superior. On June 6, 2014, a wolverine was spotted in Jordan, Minnesota in a corn and alfalfa field. It was running away from a neighbor’s elk ranch. Two men observed it for a full two minutes. The areas consists of open farm country with some random tree lines.
On June 13, 2014 at 2:30 in the afternoon, a wolverine was seen crossing Road 327 in Watowan County, Minnesota. It was seen two miles east and six miles north of Saint James, Minnesota on the Watowan River.
On April 30, 2015, two wolverines were seen running, one behind the other, just east of Rush City, Minnesota in the Saint Croix River Valley. In May 2015, a wolverine was photographed by a trail cam in Douglas County, Minnesota. I have seen the photo and felt that it was interesting but inconclusive. I showed the photo to a wolverine expert, and he also said it could be a wolverine, but it was unclear enough so it was inconclusive.

Old State Route 52 north of Zumbrota, Minnesota. It’s hard to believe that wolverines inhabit such terrain. Wolverines are recolonizing their old habitat on the US prairie. Why?

 
Many have questioned whether wolverines were actually common in prairies or if prairies merely served as population sinks. It is looking more and more like prairies are a natural home for wolverines, strange as it may seem. If these reports are accurate, it means that wolverines are re-colonizing Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and possibly also Iowa, which is fantastic news!

Prairie Island (Sioux) Indian Reservation near Zumbrota, Minnesota. Is it possible that wolverines in the past preyed on the vast buffalo herds of prairie, perhaps especially on dead buffaloes?

 
The occurrence of the wolverine in Wisconsin is very rare but documented.
On an unknown date, a wolverine was spotted on Peshtigo Brook Fire Road where it joins Kitzinger Road near Gillett, Wisconsin.
In May 1978, a wolverine was spotted by a boy and his father while walking along the Oconto River in Oconto County eight miles west of Crooked Lake, Wisconsin. The boy was able to observe it for one minute.
We receive a number of undocumented sightings by email to this site. One man grew up in Land O’ Lakes in Far Northern Wisconsin on the border with Michigan in an area known as the North Woods. This is an area of very thick, wild forest and swamps. There are many wolves, bears and possibly wolverines in this part of Wisconsin.
In 1982, the man saw three wolves in his front yard. In 1990, he and his friends treed 22 different bears in a single day while training bear dogs. They also had a frightening standoff with a wolverine on that day. From about 1983-1995, when he engaged in frequent deer hunting, the man  saw one or more wolverines every year.
In September 1990, a wolverine was seen several times over two weeks. The last time the man saw one was in 2006 near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. All sightings took place between 1983-2006 in the North Woods approximately between Rhinelander and Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. The bear density in this region is said to be incredible, or at least it was 10 years ago (Bangs 2009).
In the early 1990’s, a wolverine ran in front of a man’s car in Marinette County, Wisconsin.
A wolverine was photographed on top of a woodpile in Green Lake County, Wisconsin in recent years. The disposition of the photo is unknown. There are also recent sightings in the Black River Falls area and to the north in Wisconsin from 2000-2007. A 2003 sighting in Lafayette County in the far south of the state was regarded as credible by the the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In 2004-2005, a wolverine was spotted in Niagara, Wisconsin in the fall on opening day of deer hunting season.
In 2010, a roadkilled wolverine was found by the side of the road in Green Lake County, Wisconsin. In November 2010, a father and son saw a wolverine while sitting in a deer stand north of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
In March 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing Highway 53 between New Auburn and Bloomer, Wisconsin. On July 29, 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing the highway on US 20 east of Sac City, Wisconsin. On November 25, 2011, a deer hunter saw a wolverine run by his blind south of Gillette, Wisconsin. In Fall 2011, a wolverine was seen twice in a one week period by two hunters in Northern Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, one mile south of Brown County. Over the next year, a wolverine, suspected to be the same one as before, was seen in area.
On November 6, 2012, a wolverine was spotted by a man and his girlfriend hunting deer on their farm in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. They observed it for half a minute. A wolverine had been seen in the area 20 years before in the early 1990’s.
In July 2013, a wolverine killed a woman’s two cats at a home at in Wisconsin at Highway 53 and I-94 Highway 9 miles form Eau Claire and 6 miles form Osseo. A few days later, a neighbor came within three feet of a wolverine. Three weeks before, a nearby tavern owner said he had seen a wolverine on a county road. Around the time the woman’s cats vanished, neighbors in the vicinity started seeing their pets disappearing. Before the cats were killed, it had been eating the woman’s cat food for some time. On August 28, 2013, a man saw a wolverine running away from a trash bin at a gas station in Elk Mound, Wisconsin.
On June 13, 2014, a wolverine was seen in a field only two miles north of Independence, Wisconsin.
There have been a few unverified sightings of wolverines in North Dakota recently. In 1988, two wolverines were seen along the Little Missouri River in the Badlands of far western North Dakota by a very experienced fur trapper. In 2004, there was an unverified sighting of a wolverine near Minot. The observer watched it for a good five minutes. On June 23, 2013, a wolverine was seen in the Turtle Mountains in Far Northern North Dakota on the Manitoba border. In February 2015, mailmen spotted a wolverine on their route near Rugby, North Dakota. That is 50 miles east of Minot and 60 miles south of the Manitoba border with Canada.
There have also been wolverine sightings in South Dakota in the past 60 years. There was a verifiable wolverine sighting in the south-central portion of the state in 1961 (Aubry et al 1967). From 1998-2016, an 18 year period, three wolverines were seen in Lake County, South Dakota. One was an adult and two were juveniles. The adult was severely mauled by people’s dogs. On July 12, 2012, someone saw a wolverine near Nisland, South Dakota on the Belle Fourche River in Western South Dakota 25 miles from the Wyoming border. Their neighbor had seen a wolverine shortly before the sighting. People 10 miles northwest of Nisland said that they had seen a wolverine earlier.
A female wolverine was shot dead by a farmer on May 21, 1960 in a cornfield in central Iowa (Haugen 1961). No one quite knew how she ended up in central Iowa. She was infected with Trichinella spiralis, a parasite. (Zimmerman et al 1962). However, one report said that this wolverine had been transported into the state in 1960. There were reports around 1995-2000 of a “black animal” going from north to south through eastern Iowa killing dogs. It may have been a wolverine.
Five different people spotted a wolverine in Southwestern Iowa in 2008. A wolverine was seen in Mid June 2010 near Canton, Iowa near the Maquoketa Caves. In 2011, a bowhunter spotted a wolverine in Southeastern Iowa. In July 2011, three people spotted a wolverine walking across County Road V68 1/4 to 1/2 mile north of Highway 3 in Fayette County, Iowa. It was headed in the direction of the Wapsipinicon River. This is 10 miles north of Fairbank, Iowa.
On July 31, 2011, a wolverine cub was seen on the deck of a house in the hills north of Sioux City, Iowa. In mid-July 2102, a wolverine was photographed in Fonanelle in Adair Country in Southwestern Iowa; however, it is not known what happened to the photograph.
Incredibly enough, there have been a number of wolverine sightings in Nebraska in recent years.
It makes sense because wolverines are native to Nebraska, at least in the more mountainous parts to the north. In the Hall of Nebraska Wildlife in the University of Nebraska Natural History Museum, there is a mounted specimen of a wolverine that was shot on Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska in the 1880’s. That area is in Far Western Nebraska on the North Platte River only 20 miles from the Wyoming border. This part of Nebraska borders on Southeastern Wyoming, which is known to have wolverine populations.
In particular, wolverines have been repeatedly sighted in and around Antelope and Knox Counties in Far Northeastern Nebraska near the Missouri River and the South Dakota border.
This area is near Louis and Clark Lake and the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation. In this area, there have been many sightings along the Verdigre and Niobrara Rivers. For instance, in Summer 1998, a number of people spotted a wolverine near Verdigre, Nebraska. One was seen chasing a deer out of a draw in the middle of a hay meadow.

Photo of the area of NE Nebraska around the Niobrara, Verdigre and Elkhorn Rivers where there have been numerous wolverine sightings. That is probably the Verdigre River in the foreground.
Photo of the area of NE Nebraska around the Niobrara, Verdigre and Elkhorn Rivers where there have been numerous wolverine sightings. That is probably the Verdigre River in the foreground.

In April 2012, a fire and range ecologist spotted a wolverine running away after a cedar burn operation in a steep area near Scotia on the North Loup River. This is about in the dead center of Nebraska.
On October 29, 2014, a wet wolverine that seemed to have been swimming somewhere was seen in a pasture in Central Nebraska near Doniphan between Hastings and Grand Island. This is quite close to the Platte River where it may have been swimming. The area is between Lincoln and Platte, Nebraska.
There has also been one sighting north of Gordon in northwestern Nebraska on the headwaters of Wounded Knee Creek near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This area is east of the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, now the scene of a famous fight over selling booze to Pine Ridge Indians.
A view of the terrain around Whiteclay, Nebraska. A wolverine was sighted on the South Dakota border about 17 miles east of here.
A view of the terrain around Whiteclay, Nebraska. A wolverine was sighted on the South Dakota border about 17 miles east of here.

Incredibly enough, there have even been wolverine sightings in Missouri. On October 28, 2011, a man spotted a wolverine emerging from a cornfield and crossing State Highway E just south of Highway 13. This is hilly farm country. This area is in Western Nebraska not far from the Missouri River and is close to the place where the borders of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri all meet. There are a number of good sightings in both Nebraska and Iowa, so it is possible, though bizarre, that wolverines may exist in Western Missouri.
The first Grey Wolf in 94 years was seen recently in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It was a lone male. The UP, Minnesota and Wisconsin all have healthy populations. The Black Bear and wolf populations in Minnesota have shown dramatic increases in recent years, and there is now a healthy population of over 25 lynx in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the first time in 30 years.
In other great news along similar lines, an Eastern Grey Wolf, the first in 160 years, was detected in Massachusetts. It killed over a dozen lambs before the farmer shot it to death. The killing was probably justified, but it is unfortunate that the first wolf in the state in over 150 years got shot to death. There will probably be more wolves coming to the state after this one, though.
Click the wolverines label at the end of the post to see other posts on wolverines in the US, including many sighting reports and photos.

References

Aubry, K. B., McKelvey, K. S., and Copeland, J. P. 2007. Distribution and Broadscale Habitat Relations of the Wolverine in the Contiguous United States. Journal of Wildlife Management 71(7): 148-158.
Bangs, Ray. 2009. Personal communication.
Haugen, A. O. 1961. Wolverine in Iowa. Journal of Mammalogy 42: 546-547.
Zimmermann, W. J., Biester, H. E., Schwarte, L. H., and Hubbard, E. D. 1962. Trichinella spiralis in Iowa Wildlife during the Years 1953 to 1961. The Journal of Parasitology, 48:3:1, pp. 429-432.

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