After a three-day manhunt, murder suspect Tracey Lee Atwell was captured and his 8-year-old daughter found around 4:15 p.m. Saturday, said Sgt. M.D. Clemons with the Crimes Against Children Unit of the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment.
Atwell, 38, was captured while traveling along W.Va. 5 near the intersection of Nubbins Ridge Road and Egeria Road along the Mercer and Raleigh county line in the Spanishburg area, said Clemons.
The authorities were able to locate Atwell after he called his parents’ home and police were able to trace the call within a 3-mile radius.
On the phone with his father, Atwell swayed back and forth between the idea of bringing his daughter Porshia back to his parents and “acting desperate,” Clemons said.
She said Atwell and Porshia were staying off the road in the parked Jeep he stole Thursday from his parents’ home.
“At one point he actually heard the helicopter and attempted to conceal the car with tree branches to prevent us from seeing the top of the car,” she said. “We were patrolling the road heavily, but we would not have been able to locate him without the helicopter and ATVs.”
Although Atwell had not harmed Porshia, Clemons said the young girl had not had much food and water.
“They were living off candy bars, Laffy Taffy and an old bottle of water she found in the car. When we found her, she said her legs were weak, and I could see that her lips were chapped,” said Clemons.
Porshia has been taken to a local hospital for medical care.
Atwell is suspected of killing his wife, Christina Marie Atwell, 33, earlier in the week before tying up his parents and abducting Porshia around 1 p.m. Thursday.
He is facing charges of murder, armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping (one for tying up his parents), concealment of a child and grand larceny.
He has been remanded to Southern Regional Jail to await arraignment before a circuit court judge Monday.
“It is a big relief. It is like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders to know that he has been taken in and without incident,” added Clemons.
The State Police thanked other agencies that assisted in the investigation and apprehension, including the Mercer County and McDowell County sheriff’s departments, Princeton and Bluefield police departments, the Division of Natural Resources and Agent Terry Schwartz of the FBI.