The 17-year-old granddaughter of the nation's largest lottery winner was found dead near her boyfriend's home, her body wrapped in a sheet and plastic tarp.
Brandi Bragg, who lived in the nearby town of Hurricane, was last seen alive Dec. 4. She was reported missing five days later by Jack Whittaker, who won a $314.9 million jackpot on Christmas Day 2002 but has battled legal and other problems since then.
The cause of death was under investigation. Authorities said there were no obvious signs of violence. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday, and police said Tuesday morning there was nothing new to report.
Bragg's body was found Monday behind a junked van several hundred feet from the home of Steve Crosier, whose son Brandon was Bragg's boyfriend, said Trooper S.E. Wolfe.
A preliminary investigation indicated that Bragg may have died in the Crosiers' house and her body was later moved.
Wolfe said Monday's discovery was based on interviews with Brandon Crosier and others. "We are focused on him but I wouldn't call him a suspect yet," he said.
Steve Crosier, in a brief conversation with reporters outside his house, said: "All I know is she OD'd and Brandon freaked out."
But police would not comment on whether drugs were involved, and in a later telephone interview with The Associated Press, Crosier said he did not know any details of Bragg's death or when her body was placed outside on his property. Crosier said he had been busy tending to his daughter, Jennifer, who died of cancer Dec. 13.
Bragg's body was identified by tattoos on her neck, said State Police Sgt. Jay Powers. "The troopers had talked to her in the past and knew her," Powers said.
Whittaker and other family members did not return messages Monday. There was no listing for Bragg's mother, Ginger McMahon of Beckley, who is Whittaker's daughter.
Shortly after he won the lottery, the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history, Whittaker said he had few plans for himself but wanted to lavish his winnings on his daughter and Brandi, then 15.
But Whittaker already a wealthy contractor before his lottery win has had several brushes with the law since he won the prize. Earlier this month, a magistrate ordered him to go into rehab and surrender his driver's license after his second drunken driving arrest this year. He must report to rehab by Jan. 2.
He has also been accused in two lawsuits of assaulting female employees of a racetrack. And his vehicle, business and home have been broken into.
In September, an 18-year-old friend of his granddaughter was found dead at Whittaker's home. That death remains under investigation. Whittaker was out of town at the time.
Jeff Gentner, AP
A broken-down Ford van, center, is seen in Scott Depot, W.Va., Monday, Dec. 20, 2004. West Virginia State Police found the body of Brandi Bragg, 17, granddaughter of record Powerball multimillionaire Jack Whittaker, lying next to the van.
Jeff Gentner, AP
A van near a house owned by Steve Crosier is shown Monday, Dec. 20, 2004, in Scott Depot, W.Va. The body of Brandi Bragg, 17, granddaughter of Powerball jackpot winner Jack Whittaker, was found lying next to the van, more than two weeks after she disappeared.
Jeff Gentner, AP
A flyer with a photo of Brandi Bragg, 17, granddaughter of Powerball jackpot winner Jack Whittaker, is posted in the parking lot of Scary Creek Church of God across from the property where her body was found Monday, Dec. 20, 2004, in Scott Depot, W.Va.
Bob Bird, AP
Brandi Bragg, granddaughter of record Powerball jackpot winner Andrew 'Jack' Whittaker, is shown in Charleston, W.Va. in this Dec. 26, 2002 file photo.
Stuart Ramson, AP
Jack Whittaker, his wife Jewel, right, and their granddaughter Brandi Bragg, 15, left, pose for a photograph after being interviewed on NBC's Today Show in New York in this Dec. 27, 2002 file photo. Whittaker won a $113.4 million Powerball lottery payout from the Multi-State Lottery Association. Since winning the lottery two years ago, Jack has been arrested twice for drunken driving and has been ordered into rehab. He pleaded no contest Monday Dec. 13, 2004 to a misdemeanor assault charge for attacking a bar manager, and is accused in two lawsuits of making trouble at a nightclub and a racetrack. Jewel Whittaker told The Charleston Gazette for Tuesday's editions she regrets his purchase of the $314.9 million ticket.