SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. – The body of record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker's (search) 17-year-old granddaughter was found Monday in a rural area in western West Virginia, State Police said.
Brandi Bragg's (search) body was tentatively identified based on tattoos on her neck, said State Police Sgt. Jay Powers.
"The troopers (at the scene) had talked to her in the past and knew her," Powers said.
State Police found the body behind a junked vehicle in a grassy area on Scary Creek Road outside Scott Depot in Putnam County, across the road from a church at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. A missing child poster with Bragg's photo on it was nailed to a telephone pole beside the church.
Bragg was last seen Dec. 4 at the home of a male friend on Scary Creek Road, police had said. Whittaker reported her missing five days later.
The unidentified friend told police that she was still at his home when he went to bed. When he woke up, she was gone, but her vehicle was still parked at his house. The friend is not considered a suspect, Sgt. Lisa Arthur of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department (search) said last week.
Authorities do not know how long the body had been at the scene but that it could have been there since Bragg was last seen alive, Powers said.
There were no obvious signs of violence at the scene. A cause of death will not be determined until an autopsy is performed, he said.
Bragg's family was notified of the body's discovery, he said.
Troopers searched the area based on information received "through talking to people," Powers said.
"We knew where we were going," he said.
Bragg's grandfather became an instant celebrity on Christmas Day 2002 after winning a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot. He took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes. Since then, Whittaker has been arrested twice for drunken driving in the past year and has been ordered by magistrates in two different counties to undergo substance abuse treatment.