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Teen son to be charged in Doddridge family slayings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Doddridge County authorities intend to charge a teenager with three counts of first-degree murder for allegedly shooting his parents and younger sister at their rural home on Monday.

Deputy C.W. Modesitt of the Doddridge County Sheriff's Department issued a press release late Tuesday saying the juvenile would be charged with murder in connection with a triple homicide that occurred at about 6 p.m. Monday at a home off W.Va. 18 in West Union.

Sheriff's deputies are not releasing the names of the juvenile and victims, but school officials and others have identified the alleged shooter as Joseph Spencer and the victims as Spencer's parents and younger sister.

Joseph Spencer's mother, Dixie Spencer, a Ritchie County schoolteacher, was killed in the shooting. So was his father, identified as Frederick Spencer.

Neither the Doddridge County magistrate court nor the circuit court had received paperwork charging the youth on Wednesday afternoon. It was unclear if the teenager would be charged as a juvenile or adult.

Dixie Spencer was a seventh-grade science teacher at Ritchie County Middle School, Ritchie County school officials confirmed Tuesday. Doddridge County Commissioner Ralph Sandora did not name the two children on Tuesday, but confirmed the alleged gunman is a junior at Doddridge County High School, while his sister went to Doddridge County Middle School. Grief counselors were at both schools on Tuesday.

Modesitt said deputies will not be releasing further information about the investigation.

"Be advised that the Doddridge County Sheriff's Department, with assistance from the West Virginia State Police are thoroughly and exhaustively collecting and analyzing every piece of information and evidence linked to this crime," Modesitt said.

"We feel that the privacy and peace of the surviving family members is of chief importance through this ordeal."

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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