A body “preliminarily identified” as Virginia firefighter Nicole Mittendorff was found Thursday in Shenandoah National Park, state police have confirmed. The discovery ended an exhaustive six-day search for the 31-year-old Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department firefighter.
The body was located around 2 p.m., Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a statement Thursday evening. She said the body is being transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas, Virginia, for “autopsy, examination and positive ID.”
Geller added, “The physical and digital evidence collected during the course of this investigation –- to include a note recovered from her car -– leads to believe there was no foul play involved in her death.”
Earlier in the day, a joint statement from the National Park Service of Virginia and Virginia State Police, confirmed the search for Mittendorff had been called off, following the discovery of female remains in a remote location of the park.
Following the aforementioned joint statement’s release, Mittendorff’s family took to Facebook, writing “Our hearts are broken.” Mittendorff, of Woodbridge, Virginia, was reported missing Friday morning when she didn’t arrive for work at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. An intensive rescue effort involving approximately 100 federal, state and volunteer search-and-rescue teams have been combing the Shenandoah National Forest, according to officials, with no success.
Her husband, Steve Mittendorf, pleaded for his wife’s safe return during the press conference, held at the fire department. According to her family, they last heard from her via text message last week on Wednesday.
“Sweetheart I love you. I am praying for you,” said Mittendorf, appearing to restrain tears. “I’m not sure where you are, but know we are all looking for you and I look forward to your safe return.”
The search was concentrated around White Oak Canyon Trail, where Nicole’s 2009 Mini Cooper was found Saturday evening.
“Very motivated, very dedicated firefighter paramedic,” Fairfax fire chief Richard R. Bowers Jr. said. “Always happy, always wanting to help people, and she fit right into the fire and rescue department.”