The nine month search for Sierra Shields has ended

By Blake Bakkila
Updated September 17, 2016 01:00 PM
Credit: Courtesy Chris Shields

The remains of the Delta flight attendant who went missing in January have been found, police confirm to PEOPLE.

The family of 30-year-old Sierra Shields first told NBC 4 New York that police contacted them and said they had found their daughter’s remains, but did not confirm how she died.

In an unrelated briefing with reporters on Thursday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce said correction officers were training when they found bones washed up on Rikers Island.

“We believe we’ve identified that female from the clothing that washed up with the bones,” Boyce said. “It appears to be – and we haven’t made an ID on it yet – from someone who took their own life and jumped in the water.”

A press release obtained by PEOPLE confirmed that police had identified the remains as those of Shields.

“On Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at approximately 1510 hours, at Riker’s Island West, human remains were discovered on the shoreline of location,” police said in the release. “Detectives from the 114 Precinct and the Medical Examiner’s responded to the location. Based on an examination, it was determined that the deceased was Sierra Shields.”

Shields was last seen on Jan. 14, when she reported for work at New York’s La Guardia airport. After a brief conversation with her supervisor, she left the airport on foot. She had not been seen or heard from since that day.

On Friday, her family released a statement about the tragic end to their search for Shields, according to NBC 4 New York.

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“We are eternally grateful for the outpouring of love and support for our beautiful sweet Sierra,” her family wrote. “We are truly thankful for how God used Sierra’s life to reflect the beauty of His Kingdom. Our family is requesting privacy at this time as we cherish the memory of our precious Sierra.”

Chris Shields, Sierra’s father, previously told ABC 7 NY that his daughter showed signs of distress, which was “out of character,” during conversations with family members the week before her disappearance.