SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. -- A Nicholas County man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the killings of two adults and two children.
James Roy Belknap, 27, of Leivasy, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Nicholas County Circuit Court to four counts of first-degree murder, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Paul O'Dell told media outlets.
Belknap was charged with fatally shooting Steven Leroy Hendrix, Amber Martin and Hendrix's two young children. The family was last seen May 19, 2012. Hendrix's daughter reported them missing.
State Police Sgt. D.A. Evans led an extensive missing persons investigation that revealed Hendrix was having problems with Belknap over money and drugs. The two had been arguing about money and Belknap owed Hendrix for drugs, according to Daily Mail archives.
The bodies of Hendrix, Martin, and Hendrix's two children Dakota, 6, and Kaylee, 4, were found on May 26, 2012. The victims were stripped of clothes and dumped down a mountainside.
Belknap was arrested two days later at a police roadblock.
Sentencing was set for Aug. 28.
Prosecutor P.K. Milam said Thursday the guilty plea came as a surprise.
"We didn't think he would admit to killing the two children particularly," Milam said. "He plead straight up to the charges. That's the worst he could have done at trial. We weren't offering him any plea deals in this case because of the heinousness of it."