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Police hunt alleged killer who fled mental hospital

WESTON, W.Va. — State police were hunting an accused murderer Monday night, hours after he walked away from a state mental hospital in Lewis County.

Rocco Jesse Zuccaro, 30, of Burgettstown, Pa, was believed to have escaped at 4:20 p.m. from the William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital.

“He’s been described as a white male, 6-foot tall, about 170 pounds, wearing black pants that had a rip on the left pant leg and a dark blue or black pullover shirt, glasses. He has dark hair and a mustache,” said Lt. Michael Baylous with the state police. “We’re unsure of what direction he took off when he escaped.”

Zuccaro is accused of murdering Jason Lee Pratz, 30, who was found shot to death inside his home in February 2013 in Brooke County. Last month, Zuccaro was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and was admitted to a mental institution.

Because police believe Zuccaro to be dangerous, the public was warned to call 911 instead of approaching him. He is supposed to be wearing a dark shirt and dark pants with a rip in the left leg.

“He has ties to [Burgettstown and Brooke County], but he could be anywhere,” Baylous said. “The most important thing is if anyone encounters him, they need to contact the West Virginia State Police by phone or in person immediately, or dial 911.”

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