WEST UNION - A 16-year-old suspected of killing his mother, father and sister was a quiet boy who excelled in school, the grandfather said.
"He's always been an honor student," Frederick A. Spencer Jr., Joseph Spencer's grandfather, said Thursday.
Spencer's son, Frederick A. Spencer III and his wife, Dixie L. Spencer and their daughter Patience Josette "P.J." Spencer were killed Monday in their home off West Virginia 18 north of West Union. Authorities have never identified the victims or the juvenile they said they had in custody after the homicide was reported. Authorities have said the juvenile is facing three counts of first-degree murder.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
People enter Doddridge County High School Thursday evening for a community observance for the slain members of the Spencer family.
Spencer said he has yet to talk to Joseph, who he said remains in a Parkersburg detention facility. It was Joseph who called authorities, Spencer said.
Spencer said he doesn't know what, why or how it happened. Joseph, a junior at Doddridge County High School, was an honor student, quiet and never took drugs, Spencer said.
"Nice kid," the grandfather said.
The support from the community, friends and family has been overwhelming and appreciative, Spencer said. The phone has been ringing off the hook and calls have come from around 10 states, he said.
"It's been more than you can imagine," Spencer said.
A community observance was held Thursday at Doddridge County High School that was organized with the local ministerial association.
Rick Coffman, superintendent of schools in Doddridge County, said Thursday's observance was meant to help adults deal with the tragedy. Grief counseling over the last several days was aimed at the kids, he said.
"I think it's a good idea," he said. "It will help with the healing."
Memorial services for the Spencer family will be held 2 p.m. Saturday in the T. Edward Davis Gymnasium at Salem (W.Va.) International University where a time of gathering will be held two hours prior. Arrangements were made by the Harbert Funeral Home in Salem, which issued the obituaries Thursday morning.
The Spencers were members of the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Salem. They are also survived by a daughter, Elisabeth Spencer, 20, a junior at Marshall University, another son, Ian, a senior at Doddridge County High School who was with his girlfriend when the shootings occurred, in addition to son Joseph, and several brothers and sisters.
Dixie Spencer, 47, was the daughter of Ray and Coral Harden McCullough of Pennsboro. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in secondary education and educational technology from Salem College and was a science teacher at Ritchie County Middle School.
She was active in 4-H, an avid reader and a member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church.
Frederick Spencer III, 49, the son of Frederick A. Spencer Jr. and the late Mary Jo Hurtt Spencer, was a pilot for United Parcel Service and had a degree in criminal justice and aviation from Salem College.
He was employed by UPS as an international flight captain with more than 20 years service. He was a trustee at the Seventh Day Baptist Church and was active in all functions. He enjoyed reading, construction and outdoor activities.
They also are survived by four brothers and sisters.
P.J., 9, who was a student at Doddridge County Elementary School, enjoyed reading and swimming and wanted to be a doctor at St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
Contributions can be made to the Spencer Family Fund in care of the Cornerstone Bank in West Union, Salem or Pennsboro.