Virginia State Police said troopers have preliminarily identified remains found in the Shenandoah National Park as that of firefighter Nicole Mittendorff, who vanished a week ago.
Fire Captain Dave Hall had previously said Mittendorff called in sick to work on April 13 before disappearing, the same day her family last heard from her. Mittendorff last contacted her family by text message on April 13.
Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said on April 21 the body is likely Mittendorff’s. Geller said medical examiners will confirm the identity. The spokeswoman also said evidence collected during the investigation included a note that was found in Mittendorff’s car, which was found in the Shenandoah National Park by a U.S. park ranger in the parking area of the Whiteoak Canyon Trail on April 17.
“The physical and digital evidence collected during the course of this investigation–to include a note recovered from her car–leads investigators to believe there was no foul play involved in her death,” said the Virginia State Police in a statement on Facebook.
The search for Mittendorff was called off at about 2 p.m., after the body was found in a remote location more than a mile from the Whiteoak Canyon parking area, officials said. About 100 searchers had combed the area looking for Mitterndorf after her disappearance. A spokesperson from the park said the search area was about 10 square miles of the 300-square-mile park.
Mittendorff’s family had been desperately looking for her and had set up a Facebook page called Find Nicole to help with the search.
Mittendorff’s sister, Jennifer Clardy Chalmers, said in a statement that the family believes Mittendorff has been found, but not in the way they had expected.
“Our hearts are broken,” the family said in a post on Facebook. “We thank you for your support and ask that you keep our family in your prayers in the challenging days ahead.”
Mittendorff, 31, was said to be a high-achiever and was well-liked by her colleagues. Fairfax Firefighters Chief Richard Bowers said Mittendorff always put others first.
Mittendorff, a career firefighter and paramedic, was married to Virginia State Police sergeant, Steve Mittendorff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.