Han var sammen med Shasta Groene (8), som da hadde vært savnet siden 16. mai. Hennes bror Dylan (9) har vært savnet like lenge. Politiet har funnet et lik de tror er gutten.
Joseph hadde sin egen blogg, «Blogging The Fifth Nail», eller «Den femte spikeren». Den gir et interessant og litt guffent innblikk i en morders sjel. På bloggen forklarer Joseph selv hvorfor han kaller den «The Fifth Nail».
«According to myth gypsies crafted five nails for Christ's execution not four. The fifth nail was meant to pierce his heart, but the gypsies hid the fifth nail from the roman soldiers. In some stories the gypsies were punished by God for prolonging Christ's suffering, and in others they were rewarded for attempting to protect him. The fifth nail is said to have been a real religious artifact with miraculous powers. Its existence today is somewhat questionable, unless you consider the metaphor.»
Joseph ble arrestert som 16-åring, etter at han hadde voldtatt en 14-årig skolekamerat. Han satt inne fra 1980 til han ble sluppet ut på prøve i 1994, men ble arrestert igjen for ikke å overholde vilkårene for prøveløslatelse.
I '97 ble han sendt tilbake for å sone de tre siste årene. Etter at han slapp ut studerte han data på et universitet i Nord-Dakota. Han tok en strålende eksamen i 2000.
Men så kom demonene tilbake. I det siste innlegget på «The Fifth Nail», fra 11. mai, seks dager før ungene forsvant og moren, kjæresten hennes og storebroren deres ble brutalt myrdet, er overskriften på bloggen hans: «The Demons Have Taken Over». Her er noen utdrag fra det siste innlegget:
«As far as letting God take care of the Demons, too late. They've locked up the "Happy Joe" person in the same dungeon that "Happy Joe" kept them in for so many years. Now they are loose and I am very afraid ....
I have been asking God to help defeat the demons. In fact, last night I was on my knees begging him, crying out loud to him, to help me. ... The demons (if that's what they/it are/is--I use the term for mere convenience) have convinced me that I should at least question my religious beliefs, (this makes sense, otherwise I would believe anything) and that is how they got the key to the dungeon, and trapped me inside.
To be more specific, I am scared, alone, and confused, and my reaction is to strike out toward the perceived source of my misery, society. My intent is to harm society as much as I can, then die.
I was in prison for over 18 years, since the age of 17. As an adult all I knew was the oppression of incarceration. All those years I dreamed of getting out ... And getting even. Instead, I got out and I got even, but did not get caught. So, I got even again, and again did not get caught. So, I figured, well, I got even twice (actually more, but that's here nor there), even if I'm the only one who knows, so now what? Well that was when the "Happy Joe" dream started. I met a bunch of really great people, the kind of people I didn't even know existed, but here they were, bunches of them, my neighbors, my landlords, my professors, my coworkers, and they were all good people, who were willing to give me a chance despite my past. They were willing to accept me and be my friend, something that was new for me, having been betrayed by many "friends" and even my own family.
So, I tried to make it work. But the problem was those demons. The ones who "got even" for me. They kept reminding me that if my new "friends" knew about them (and what they, I, had done to even), then so much for their friendship. So, "Happy Joe" was just dreaming, or pretending to be happy.»