WEST UNION, W.Va. — A Doddridge County teenager will soon leave juvenile custody and serve three life prison terms in state prison.

Doddridge County Circuit Judge Tim Sweeney sentenced Joseph Spencer, 17, of West Union, Monday following Spencer’s earlier guilty plea in connection with the Labor Day 2012 shooting deaths of his father, mother and sister.

File photo courtesy WDTV

Joseph Spencer, 17, right, was sentenced Monday to three life terms in prison.

Spencer pleaded guilty to three counts of first degree murder with mercy last month. Judge Sweeney went along with the plea agreement for sentencing that has two of the life prison terms running at the same time. Spencer will have a chance for parole in 30 years.

The judge ordered Spencer into the custody of the state Division of Corrections. He has been in juvenile custody since the shootings took place. Spencer will first be sent to the North Central Regional Jail until a bed frees up in prison.

Spencer took his father’s 9mm handgun and murdered Frederick Spencer III, 49, Dixie Spencer, 47, and his 9-year-old Patience Spencer.

The boy’s father was a UPS pilot; his mother, a science teacher at Ritchie County Middle School while Patience Spencer was a student at Doddridge County Elementary School.


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  • Al

    In the case of Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), the Supreme Court of the United States held that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

    In the case of Miller v. Alabama (No. 10–9646. Decided June 25, 2012) the Supreme Court of the U.S. held that a mandatory sentence of life without possibility of parole is unconstitutional for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

    In other words, the state must afford this defendant the opportunity to seek parole at some future time regardless of his motive in committing these heinous murders.

    If his motive has ever been revealed, it should be published.

  • Lee

    Could some one please explain why this kid killed his family ?

  • 2XLPatriot

    While I agree whole heartedly that I too, am curious as to what the whole story involves that would drive a young person to such a terrible act. Also, I feel WV should reinstate the death penalty. I have held off on making this comment and feel now is the time; Am I the only one who sees Harry Potter in the profile picture of this kid?

  • griff

    Chasmo, yes I am tired of it. hopefully more & more people will get tired of their tax money feeding these pos's & there will be enough people to speak for the death penalty :)

  • kate

    While I totally agree that these murders were horriffic and heartless, I have to wonder what his side was? I have to wonder what was going on in that household to drive him to that? There is no good or acceptable reason for murdering people, but, wonder what isn't being told??

  • chasmo

    Tax Payers , aren't you getting frustrated with all these senseless brutal murders ? And then , we place the POS in a facility till a BED OPENS UP ?? If you know personally anyone that was murdered , I know you are totally feed up with these murders and yet our law makers refuse to allow us to vote on capital punishment ! So, apparently this continuation of killings will not cease and we " await a bed". Sad Sad Sad Sad Day again to be a Mountaineer .Our court system stinks !

    • rick

      It is not as cheap and simple sticking a needle in a guilty persons arm. The appeals process is long and expensive plus the extra cost of "housing them on death row" is more expensive than most levels of the various prisons. Both sides can play with numbers to argue which is the cheaper option. People still commit crimes in states that have the death plenty, it is not a deterrent. There are bad, sick people in this world who do not value life.

      • chasmo

        rick- we ALL realize your view point and it is legit; however , CERTAIN " acts" do not deserve numerous appeals - you agree ?? We have had numerous brutal killings in the area and all are sentenced to " no mercy " & are lifers. Most have admitted their guilt , so , I know this is " heartless" , however , lets open up some beds. Once again, your view point is very well worded.

  • chasmo

    Griff: you are absolutely correct. Inmates , this POS murdered his 9 yr old sister, help " us " out , please .What a POS , this punk does not deserve to take another breath!

  • Michael

    Did he ever say why he did it?

  • Curios

    Other than satan himself what possessed this boy to commit this crime? Was drugs involved?

  • griff

    parole after 30 yrs. what he needs is execution