Idaho father accused of killing 3 children

The Associated Press

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A Twin Falls man accused of using poison to kill his three young children told police he "didn't want the kids to suffer through the divorce," according to an affidavit filed Thursday.

Jim Junior Nice was charged in 5th District Court with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his 6-year-old twin sons, Justin and Spencer, and his 2-year-old daughter, Raquel Anna.

He was ordered held without bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 4. No date has been set for arraignment.

"Nice appeared despondent over his recent divorce and described how he had purchased and used over-the-counter medication and rat poison to kill his children," Twin Falls police Detective Michael Steen wrote in the affidavit obtained by The Times-News in Twin Falls.

"Nice further described taking prescription medication along with over-the-counter medication in an attempt to kill himself," Steen wrote.

Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs said he could not offer any information beyond what was in the affidavit.

Court records from Jim and Leslie Nice's divorce earlier this year said the children had been previously removed from their custody by state-welfare officials after the May 2004 drowning death of a fourth child, 22-month-old Ian Nice, in a ditch at a local park. The three children were placed in the custody of their grandparents.

"At the time of Ian's death, both the Twin Falls City Police Department and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare became involved in these parents' lives," the court records say.

The children were returned to their parents after a period of months.

When the couple divorced last March 17, Leslie Nice was awarded primary custody during the school year and Jim Nice had primary custody during summer. The divorce decree provided for visitation rights every other weekend and on alternate holidays, as well as on Tuesday evenings, for the noncustodial parent.

Police discovered the children's bodies Wednesday morning, after someone called the department to request that officers check on Jim Nice, who had failed to show up for work.

Nice answered the door when officers Arnold Morgado and Michelle Wyatt knocked, according to the records.

"Officer Morgado asked Nice if he was OK," the affidavit says. "In response, Nice hung his head, put his hand over his mouth, and shook his head no and replied: 'No I'm not.' "

At that point, the officers say, Nice opened the door wider, fell to the ground and began mumbling. That's when the officers spotted the bodies of the three children on the living-room floor.

Nice was treated at Magic Valley Regional Medical Center before he was booked into the Twin Falls County Jail.

Nice had worked as a part-time detention officer with the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center, Loebs said.

Jim Junior Nice, in a wheelchair, is escorted out of a courtroom after his arraignment Thursday in Twin Falls, Idaho, on charges he murdered his three children. (ASHLEY SMITH / THE (TWIN FALLS) TIMES-NEWS)