Possible Break In Missing Kids Case - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/20/05-Coeur D'Alene, ID

Possible Break In Missing Kids Case

A tip that two missing children may have been spotted in an Idaho store prompted a lookout for a tall man driving a light colored van, possibly now in northwestern Montana, investigators said.

Authorities launched a massive search for 9-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Shasta after their mother, brother and their mother's boyfriend were found brutally slain in their Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, home on Monday.

The owner of Roundheels Sports, a small store in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, called the 911 to report that he saw two small children who looked similar to the two children described in the Amber Alert related to the triple homicide in Kootenai County in the company of a tall man.

 Despite a "quick response," Idaho and Montana authorities were unable to find a van matching that description on the highway or secondary roads between the store and Libby, Montana. Witnesses at the store were not able to give a good description of the man or vehicle, he said. 

 This tip is just one of about 300 given to investigators since Monday, police said. The coroner's office concluded Thursday that the three victims died of of blunt force trauma to the head -- a grisly crime that has puzzled investigators and left two young children missing from the home. The three victims were bound, and the blows to their heads left a blood-splattered scene in the home.

 Authorities said the victims and two missing children were last seen alive Sunday night at a barbecue at the home. The bodies were discovered Monday after neighbors called police when they didn't see any activity at the home. Robert Roy Lutner was  interviewed by the sheriff's department and FBI agents about the murders , but he "had nothing to do" with the crimes. Lutner was seen Sunday night at the house. He contacted authorities Wednesday night after he was named as a "person of interest" in the case. Lutner had waited to turn himself in because of a probation violation. Authorities, including FBI agents, interviewed Lutner for more than seven hours and he voluntarily took a polygraph test that confirmed his truthfulness. One piece of information Lutner provided was that there was a "gathering of friends" for a barbecue at the home Sunday afternoon. 

Steve Groene, the father of the two missing children, fought back tears as he urged those who might be holding his children to set them free. "Please, please release my children safely. They had nothing to do with any of this," the father said. "Release them in a safe area where law enforcement can find them, call the help line, let them know where they can be found. Please, we need the safe return of those children." Searchers were combing thick woods surrounding the house.  Authorities remain optimistic the children are still alive.

In the Amber Alert issued for the missing children, authorities described Dylan as 4 feet tall, 60 pounds, with short blonde, crewcut hair and blue eyes; and Shasta as 3-foot-10, 40 pounds, with long auburn-brown hair and hazel green eyes

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