Body Found During Search for Missing Virginia Firefighter
The female remains are thought to belong to missing firefighter Nicole Mitendorff
Virginia authorities found a body near a trail in the Shenandoah National park during a search for missing firefighter, Nicole Mittendorff on Thursday, PEOPLE confirms.
The Virginia State Police first shared the news in a statement on Facebook, revealing that female remains were found around 2 p.m. in a remote area over a mile from were her car was parked in the White Oak Canyon parking lot, urging officers to call off search efforts.
Although the body has not yet been identified, the Fire Chief from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department – where Mittendorff, 31, worked – issued a statement, expressing the department’s sadness at the findings.
“I along with the men and women of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, are profoundly saddened to learn that the body found earlier today in the Shenandoah National Park is thought to be that of Firefighter-Paramedic Nicole Mittendorff,” Chief Richard Bowers wrote in his statement. “As we wait for further information we continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to Nicole’s friends and family.”
Mittendorff was reported missing nearly a week ago after failing to show for her firefighting shift. Days after her disappearance, her 2009 Mini Cooper was found in the National Park were her family said she regularly went running.
Earlier Thursday police told PEOPLE that foul play was not expected and that Mittendorff had downloaded unspecified documents onto her cellphone shortly before vanishing. Officers would not discuss the contents of the documents.
According to local CBS affiliate, WUSA, police said late Thursday night that a suicide note was found in her car.
Around the same time that police revealed a body had been found, a Facebook page under the name “Find Nicole,” released a statement.
“Our hearts are broken,” the message read. “We thank you for your support and ask that you keep our family in your prayers in the challenging days ahead.”