PARKERSBURG - The Doddridge County prosecuting attorney is declining to answer a Freedom of Information Act request from The Parkersburg News and Sentinel related to a triple homicide.
On Thursday, The News and Sentinel contacted Doddridge County Prosecutor Brooke Fitzgerald's office regarding the newspaper's request filed last week seeking a copy of the criminal complaint related to the deaths of Fred and Dixie Spencer and their daughter, P.J. Spencer, 9.
The News and Sentinel made repeated attempts to contact the office Thursday morning, before leaving a message inquiring about an answer to the FOIA. The receptionist who answered the phone confirmed the FOIA was received, as well as the message inquiring about a response.
"The prosecutor did receive your message and is in court this afternoon," the receptionist said.
She declined to say if the FOIA had been answered.
According to state code, officials are required to respond to a FOIA request within a maximum of five business days.
On Sept. 5, The News and Sentinel filed the FOIA with the prosecutor requesting a copy of the criminal complaint related to the triple homicide.
The Spencers were killed Sept. 3 in their home off W.Va. 18 north of West Union. The couple's son Joseph, a junior at Doddridge County High School, has been identified as the alleged shooter.
Deputy C.W. Modesitt of the Doddridge County Sheriff's Department told The Charleston Gazette investigators had not established a motive for the slayings. He also said police had no previous run-ins with the suspect.
Modesitt was out of the office Thursday and unavailable for comment to The News and Sentinel.
News agencies throughout the state have attempted to speak with Fitzgerald in the wake of the homicides. The prosecutor has not made herself available for comment.
Her refusal to speak with media outlets prompted The News and Sentinel to file a FOIA.
Violation of the state's FOIA act is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 10 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
"It's a sad situation when a county prosecutor chooses to disobey the law," said Jim Smith, executive editor of The News and Sentinel.