Teen accused of murdering family to enter plea

WEST UNION – A Doddridge County teen accused of killing three family members in 2012 is expected to enter a plea agreement within the next few weeks.

Joseph Spencer, 17, is charged with fatally shooting his parents, 49-year-old Frederick Spencer and 47-year-old Dixie Spencer, and his 9-year-old sister, Patience Spencer, on Sept. 3, 2012. The victims’ bodies were found at their home outside West Union.

“In negotiations with the State of West Virginia, we have reached a plea agreement in principle,” said attorney Rod Windom, who is representing Joseph Spencer. “That agreement will be dispositive of all charges.”

Windom said a plea hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Jan. 15 before Doddridge County Circuit Court Judge Tim Sweeney.

Windom said the plea calls for Spencer to plead guilty to all three charges of first-degree murder. Windom said the court was informed of the plea during a status hearing Friday.

Windom said he could not discuss details of the plea because if not accepted, “we would go to trial at a future date.”

Windom also corrected other media reports which said the murder charges against Joseph Spencer would be dropped as part of the plea. Windom said the plea would be “dispositive,” which meant it would deal with and resolve all charges against Joseph Spencer.

There is no dismissal of charges, Windom said.

On Sept. 3, 2012, Spencer called Doddridge County 911 saying he shot his parents and younger sister at their home outside of West Union, police said.

According to police reports at the time, the victims were identified as Fred and Dixie Spencer and their daughter Patience “PJ” Spencer. In later 2012, Sweeney granted a motion by the state to try Joseph Spencer as an adult.

Police said Spencer told the officer who responded to the call he used his father’s 9mm handgun in the shootings and then called 911 to report the shootings.

(Staff writer Jeffrey Saulton contributed to this report.)