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Former Army paratrooper wanted by police found dead

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A former Army paratrooper who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was wanted by authorities was found dead in the Boone County wilderness with a camouflage-painted face, a stolen handgun and survival gear.

Authorities believe Zarcus Gore, 27, might have intentionally overdosed on prescription drugs. A large cache of painkillers also was found with the body.

Gore was on home confinement as a condition of the bond he posted for malicious wounding and sexual assault charges. He was staying at his uncle's house on Horse Branch Road, about two and a half miles from where his body was found.

A turkey hunter discovered the body Saturday morning on a little road in the woods near Lick Creek, said Chad Barker, Boone County chief deputy. Hobet Mining owns the property but there are no active mines there.

The Columbus Dispatch interviewed Gore in 2008 for a story about veterans dealing with wartime experiences. Then a 22-year-old Iraq War veteran, he was seeking help for PTSD at a Veterans Administration hospital in Chillicothe, Ohio.

He served a year in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division -- paratroopers based out of Fort Bragg, N.C. -- and was deployed to Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I'm trying to get to where I can cope with society," Gore told the Dispatch. "I'm having a lot of problems dealing with day-to-day life. I didn't get any physical injuries, but I got a lot of mental ones."

Among the items found with the body were batteries, food and a .32-caliber handgun. He was dressed in camouflage and his face was covered in camo face paint.

"It looked like he was intent on staying in the woods for a while," Barker said.

The state Medical Examiner's office will perform an autopsy. Preliminary findings point to overdose as the cause of death, and Barker said it's possible Gore committed suicide.  

Gore was charged in March with malicious wounding and sexual assault stemming from an incident in January. A Danville man told Madison police he was walking with Gore and another man identified as Dwayne Carter at 11:30 p.m. Jan. 23 near the Boone Lumber Co. when they attacked him.

The victim said Gore and Carter hit him and kicked him, knocking him to the ground. The pair then carried him to Gore's apartment where he was sexually assaulted, according to a complaint filed in Boone Circuit Court.

Barker said Gore fled the state when he learned of the charges. He was arrested in Chicago on March 22 and extradited to West Virginia shortly after. Barker said the charges were serious and the victim suffered serious injuries.

Gore appeared in Boone Magistrate Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing. The magistrate sent the case to circuit court.

"I guess that was not good news to him," Barker said, adding that Gore jumped home confinement that night. He stole the weapon and money from his uncle and took off.

Barker said Gore was involved in a drive-by shooting in the late 2000s. Deputies also were aware of Gore's military background and overseas deployment.

Deputies were actively searching for Gore over the weekend.

"With his training he was definitely a concern to us," Barker said. "We knew he was a dangerous individual.

"He stole that firearm for a reason. We didn't know if he was intent on harming himself, or law enforcement or the victim in that assault."

Barker said items found with Gore were taken as evidence. Deputies still are investigating.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.

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