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Search continues for 8-year-old girl taken by father

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Authorities continued to search Friday for an 8-year-old Mercer County girl who was reported abducted by her father Thursday.

The West Virginia State Police said Tracy Lee Atwell, 38, went to his parents' house in Camp Creek at about 3 p.m. Thursday, tied them up and robbed them.

Atwell told his parents he had killed his ex-wife. He then grabbed his daughter, Porshia Atwell, and fled in his parents' white 1999 Jeep Cherokee Laredo. Atwell's parents have custody of the young girl, said State Police Sgt. G.A. Duckworth.

Police later found Atwell's ex-wife, Christina Maria Atwell, dead in her home. Authorities are working to determine when she was killed.

Tracy Atwell is believed to be armed with a .357 Magnum revolver taken from his parents, according to State Police Sgt. D.W. Miller of the Princeton detachment.

Miller said Atwell was spotted in Princeton on Thursday.

Atwell has a drug problem and is known to take prescription pain pills intravenously, Miller said.

"We're hoping, because of his drug habit, he's going to stick around the area where his drug connections are," the trooper said.

Atwell had a public address listed in Ieager, McDowell County. He also lived in Roanoke, Va., according to public searches.

Miller said the Mercer County Sheriff's Department, the state Division of Natural Resources, the FBI and troopers from several State Police detachments are assisting in the search for Atwell.

Members of the public are asked to be on the lookout for the stolen Jeep. The license plate number is 6C3-202, Miller said.

Porshia Atwell is about 4 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs about 75 pounds. She has blonde hair.

Tracy Atwell is about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He is believed to be armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees Atwell should not approach him and should call 911 immediately, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the State Police Princeton detachment, at 304-425-2101.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

Staff writer Travis Crum contributed to this report.


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