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Deputy says motive for triple slaying still unclear

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Police don't yet know what led a 16-year-old Doddridge County boy to allegedly shoot and kill his father, mother and younger sister at their home Monday night, the lead investigator in the case said Thursday.

Doddridge County Sheriff;s Deputy C.W. Modesitt said he hasn't established a motive as to why the teenager killed Frederick A. Spencer III, 49; his wife, Dixie Lee Spencer, 47; and their 9-year-old daughter, Patience.

The teenager was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and is awaiting a pre-trial hearing, Modesitt said.

The deputy said he could not release the teen's name because he is a juvenile, but family members have identified him as 16-year-old Joseph Spencer, Dixie and Frederick Spencer's son and Patience Spencer's brother.

Modesitt said a decision has not been made on whether the teenager will be tried as an adult. According to state law, circuit judges are required to transfer youths age 14 and older to adult court if prosecutors seek the transfer and the juvenile is charged with murder, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, arson or treason.

Doddridge County Prosecuting Attorney A. Brooke Fitzgerald did not return phone calls Thursday. It's unclear if Spencer has an attorney.

Modesitt said police had no previous run-ins with the teenager, and none of the shooting victims had any record.

The slayings occurred at about 6 p.m. at the Spencers' home at Mastons<co > Road off W.Va. 18, he said. Police were eventually called to the home and discovered the victims were all dead from "multiple gunshot wounds."

Modesiit said he's still sorting out the investigation and more details will be released at a later time.

The slayings have shocked the close-knit community, he said.

Salem International University officials have organized a memorial service for the three victims Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

Harbet Funeral Home says the service is set for 2 p.m. in the gymnasium Saturday on Salem's campus in Harrison County.

Dixie and Frederick Spencer were graduates of Salem College, which is now Salem International. Dixie Spencer was a seventh-grade science teacher at Ritchie County Middle School. Frederick Spencer was a pilot for United Parcel Service.

Patience Spencer was a student at Doddridge County Elementary School and aspired to be doctor, according to the girl's obituary.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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