By Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times

A man who was convicted of brutally murdering five people, including a 10-year-old Riverside County boy he abducted at knifepoint, died Sunday while awaiting execution for his crimes, authorities said.

Joseph Edward Duncan III, 58, died in a hospital outside federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana, the Riverside County district attorney’s office said in a news release.

Duncan (Terry Pierson)

A cause of death was not disclosed, but he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, prosecutors said.

Duncan was sentenced to death for the 2005 murder of Dylan Groene, 9, whom Duncan kidnapped along with his sister Shasta Groene, 8, after using a claw hammer to bludgeon to death the children’s mother, Brenda Groene; her fiance, Mark McKenzie; and her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, inside their rural Idaho home.

FILE – In this Oct. 16, 2006 file photo, Joseph Edward Duncan III, right, is shown during a hearing at the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department Justice building in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A convicted serial killer whose victims included two young boys died Sunday at a hospital in Indiana, authorities said. Joseph Edward Duncan died at the medical center near United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, where he was on death row, according to a statement from prosecutors in Riverside County, California. Duncan, 58, had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. (Kathy Plonka/Spokesman-Review via AP, Pool, File)Kathy Plonka/AP

Duncan reportedly told FBI agents that he was also connected to the 1997 killing of Anthony Martinez, 10, who was forced into a sedan at knifepoint while he played in a fenced-in alleyway behind a neighbor’s home with his brother and some friends in Beaumont in Riverside County.

The kidnapping coincided with one of Duncan’s periods out of prison, when he’d gone to California to visit his father in the San Bernardino County town of Highland, about 22 miles northwest, authorities said.

Duncan, who approached the boys and offered them $1 to help him find his lost cat, had at first tried to grab Martinez’s younger brother but took Martinez when he intervened, prosecutors said.

After an extensive 15-day search, a park ranger found Martinez’s body, naked and bound with duct tape, buried under rocks 70 miles away in remote Berdoo Canyon north of Indio. Investigators believe he was killed by blunt force against a rock, and he had been sexually assaulted.

“There is less evil in this world,” Martinez’s younger brother Marcos said Sunday in a statement. “Nothing can bring my brother back, but now Duncan can never hurt anyone ever again.”

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