After six days of searching Shenandoah National Park, Virginia State police officers preliminarily believe they have found the body of Nicole Mittendorff.
Search efforts for the missing Fairfax County firefighter were suspended Thursday after crews found female remains around 2 p.m. in a remote location more than a mile from the Whiteoak Canyon parking lot where Mittendorff’s car was found Saturday.
Later Thursday night, police said they found a suicide note in Mittendorff’s car and that they do not suspect foul play was involved.
The discovery of the body comes six days after authorities began searching for the missing Fairfax County firefighter.
The 31-year-old Woodbridge woman was reported missing on Friday when she didn’t show up to work at Station 32. Her car was found Saturday in a parking lot near Whiteoak Falls trail in Shenandoah.
In a Facebook post, her family said their hearts were broken and asked for prayers.
The search Thursday in rural Madison County continued throughout the morning. In the afternoon, however, the state troopers rushed to the scene of the parking lot where Mittendorff’s car was found. They gathered all-terrain vehicles to assist with the search.
Police later said a team of six searchers on the ground spotted her remains.
In a statement, Fairfax County Fire Chief Bowser said he and the rest of the department were saddened to learn the body is believed to be Mittendorff’s and the department sends their thoughts and prayers to her friend’s and family.
Over the last week, hundreds of people fanned out across the area in a methodical grid search over very, very rugged terrain. At one point, trained searchers rappelled down the side of the canyon and divers went in the waterfall pools below searching for evidence.
The remains will be taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination, autopsy and positive identification.
Investigators are still piecing together a timeline to determine when Mittendorff arrived at the park and when she died.