Remains found during search for missing Va. firefighter-paramedic
The remains were found in a remote location more than a mile from the parking area where Mittendorff's vehicle was found
The Associated Press
MADISON COUNTY, Va. — Female remains found Thursday in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park are likely those of a paramedic-firefighter who disappeared a week ago, Virginia State Police said.
Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in an email late Thursday that troopers have preliminarily identified the body found as Nicole Mittendorff of Woodbridge, Virginia.
The Virginia medical examiner will have to confirm the identity through an autopsy and the body was taken to the chief medical examiner's office in Manassas, Geller said.
The evidence collected during the investigation, including a note found in Mittendorff's car, leads troopers to believe no foul play was involved in her death, she said.
The ground search for Mittendorff was called off about 2 p.m. after the remains were found in a remote location more than a mile from the Whiteoak Canyon parking area, the National Park Service and State Police said in a news release.
Mittendorff's car was found in the parking area Saturday, a day after she was reported missing when she didn't show up for her job with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue. Law enforcement officials said the remains were found about 330 yards from the trail in treacherous, rocky terrain.
Mittendorff, 31, was an avid runner and tri-athlete; her family said earlier this week that she may have been training on a trail near where her car was found.
About 100 search and rescue team members from several agencies combed a steep, rocky and forested 10-square-mile section of the 300-square-mile national park, park spokeswoman Sally Hurlbert said earlier this week. Searchers have been out daily since Mittendorff was reported missing.
Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers praised Mittendorff this week as the search went on. "She's dedicated, she's respected and she's well-liked among her peers and colleagues," he said.
Mittendorff's sister, Jennifer Clardy Chalmers, released a statement saying, "We believe that Nicole has been found and is finally coming home, however not in the way we anticipated. This is not the positive outcome that we continued to hope and pray for over the past week. ... We thank everyone for their time, dedication and support in our search to find Nicole and ask that you keep our family in your prayers in the challenging days ahead."