Video: Shasta's homecoming

updated 3/30/2006 4:12:49 PM ET 2006-03-30T21:12:49

The young girl whose family was killed at their home last year returned there to release balloons in memory of a brother on what would have been his 14th birthday.

“Slade’s my brother and I want to do this for him,” Shasta Groene, now 9, told KREM-TV of Spokane, Wash., on Wednesday in her first public comments since last May’s carnage. She was joined by relatives at the modest home along Interstate 90 outside Coeur D’Alene.

With her father, Steve Groene, at her side, Shasta said Slade “was a very nice boy and we don’t want to forget about him.”

Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, has been charged with bludgeoning Slade Groene; their 40-year-old mother, Brenda; and Brenda’s 37-year-old boyfriend Mark McKenzie at the house so he could kidnap Shasta and her 10-year-old brother, Dylan, for sex.

Dylan was later killed. Shasta, the sole survivor, was rescued at a Denny’s restaurant in Coeur d’Alene on July 2, after seven weeks of captivity.

A note to her family
In the brief interview that aired Wednesday night, Shasta said she wrote a note to her brothers, her mother and McKenzie.

“Hopefully we’ll get to see them again,” she said.

The Groene family has been protective of Shasta since her rescue, and had released only a few photographs of her. She seemed poised and relaxed during her brief comments to the camera.

“I’m happy to be here and happy to be doing this,” Shasta said.

She added that she’ll always remember Slade. “Every holiday I would want him to be involved in the holidays, even though he is not here,” she said. “That doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.”

She made no reference to Duncan, who allegedly took her and Dylan to a primitive campsite in Montana.

Duncan, who is being held without bail, is awaiting a state trial scheduled for October; federal charges also are expected. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

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