A body found Thursday near the White Oaks Canyon trail in Shenandoah National Park has been identified as being that of Virginia firefighter Nicole Mittendorff, who was reported missing on April 15.
A ground team of National Park Service and Virginia State Police personnel discovered the body around 2:00 p.m. Thursday, about a mile from the parking area where Nicole's car had been found. The remains were 330 yards off the trail in a treacherous, rocky area, officials say.
"The physical and digital evidence collected during the course of this investigation – to include a note recovered from her car – leads investigators to believe there was no foul play involved in her death," Virginia State police said in a statement.
Searchers have spent the past six days scouring the rugged trails in the remote area, where family members say Nicole frequently went to run.
"Our hearts are broken," reads a post on the 'Find Nicole' Facebook page Thursday night. "We thank you for your support and ask you keep our family in your prayers in the challenging days ahead."
Robert Clardy, Nicole’s father, also told Dateline in a message, “I'm heartbroken… it was not the outcome we hoped for. Please hug, kiss, or call and talk to your loved ones.”
Nicole was reportedly last heard from on Wednesday, April 13, via text, family members say. Officials say the 31-year-old called in sick at work the day before she disappeared. Then, when she did not show up the following day for her shift at Fire Station 32 in Burke, those close to her knew something was very wrong.
Officials located her 2009 Mini Cooper Saturday night in a parking lot near the start of the trail where her body was later found.