A 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 court papers filed Thursday.

Jim Junior Nice, 33, was charged Thursday with three counts of first-degree murder. He was ordered held without bail pending a preliminary hearing.

Nice admitted the killings after he was taken into custody, and "appeared despondent over his recent divorce," according to a police affidavit.

He also told police he had taken medications in an attempt to kill himself, the affidavit said.

An after-hours call Thursday to his attorney's office was not returned.

Fatally poisoned were 6-year-old twins, Justin and Spencer, and a 2-year-old girl, Raquel Anna.

Divorce records show Jim and Leslie Nice lost custody of the children after the 2004 drowning death of a fourth child, 22-month-old Ian Nice, in a ditch at a local park.

The children were placed in the custody of their grandparents for nine months.

After the couple divorced earlier this year, they shared custody of the children.

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 the officers knocked. When asked if he was OK, the man "hung his head, put his hand over his mouth, and shook his head no and replied, 'No I'm not,'" the affidavit said.

Nice opened the door wider, fell to the ground and began mumbling. Officers then spotted the three bodies lying on the living room floor.