- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2005

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A man sought for questioning in the bloody slayings of three persons was found yesterday as the search continued for two children missing from the home where the killings took place.

Kootenai County Sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger did not say where Robert Roy Lutner was found and did not know whether the missing children, Shasta and Dylan Groene, were with him.

Authorities have said Mr. Lutner was known to have been at the children’s home on Sunday night, the night before the bodies of their brother, mother and a man were found.

Police in several states had been attempting to locate Mr. Lutner, and Capt. Wolfinger said Mr. Lutner knew he was being sought.

“I don’t know about the children. That is the first question our detectives are going to ask him, obviously,” Capt. Wolfinger said.

Police want to determine whether Mr. Lutner, 33, of Hayden, may have seen something or met someone at the home east of Coeur d’Alene where the bodies were found. An Amber Alert for the missing children remained in effect.

Shasta, 8, is 3 feet 10 inches tall and 40 pounds with long auburn hair and hazel eyes, and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, is 4 feet tall and 60 pounds with a blond crew cut and blue eyes.

The bodies of their mother, Brenda Kay Groene, 40, and brother, Slade Vincent Groene, 13, and Mark E. McKenzie, 37, of Coeur d’Alene, were found in the house.

Police released few details about the evidence found inside the house, but Capt. Wolfinger said there was “lots of blood.”

“We know this was a triple homicide because all three victims were bound,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Autopsies were being conducted yesterday to determine how and when the three victims were killed. Neither Capt. Wolfinger nor Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson would characterize the relationship between Mr. McKenzie and the others.

Authorities prepared to drain small ponds near the home yesterday to search “for evidence of any sort, or, God forbid, the children, but maybe a tool or weapon, anything,” Capt. Wolfinger said.

The search also expanded from the home in Coeur d’Alene to nearby fields and woods where the children were known to play. Capt. Wolfinger said police and civilian volunteers on horses and all-terrain vehicles were looking for “little forts” and “favorite places out in the woods” where the children might be hiding.

“The children are our number one priority,” he said. “We keep processing the scene with the idea that maybe we’ll get that one clue at the scene that will lead us to where the children are and who they may be with.”

Mr. Lutner was on probation for an unemployment fraud conviction and had left information Tuesday with a probation officer that he intended to visit his father and stepmother in the Boise area, Capt. Wolfinger said.

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