- Associated Press - Monday, December 10, 2018

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A man who was serving life in prison for the murder of his three children when he was named the only suspect in the beating death of his cellmate has died of an apparent suicide.

Idaho Department of Correction officials announced Jim Junior Nice’s death in a prepared statement on Sunday. Nice was serving three life sentences for the deaths of his children, and last year was moved to a maximum security prison after he was named the only suspect in the brutal death of his former cellmate at the Idaho State Correctional Institution.

Prison officials said Nice was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office has been asked to investigate the death. Nice was 53.

“He died as a result of what appears to be a self-inflicted wound,” Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said on Monday. Ray said he couldn’t discuss any details of the death because of the ongoing investigation.

Nice was sentenced to three life terms without parole in 2006 for the murders of his 6-year-old twin sons, Justin and Spencer, and his 2-year-old daughter, Raquel Anna. Police said he poisoned the three children just a few days before Christmas in 2005 using over the counter medication and rat poison at their Twin Falls home. Police said at the time that Nice claimed to have taken also prescription and over-the-counter medication in an attempt to kill himself, but he survived.

His time in prison appeared to be mostly quiet, and he eventually earned medium security status and housed at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Last year Glenn Cox, a 52-year-old man who was serving time on a repeat felony drunken driving conviction, was moved into Nice’s cell. A few weeks later, prison workers found Cox’s body: He’d been beaten, strangled and stabbed with a pencil. Nice was the only other person in the cell at the time, and investigators said he was the only suspect in the case. He was never charged, however, and it is unclear if the Ada County Sheriff’s Office was still investigating the murder.

Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Patrick Orr couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, but earlier this year he said the investigation was ongoing and that since Nice had been moved to a maximum security cell, the public was safe.

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