A missing Virginia firefighter was confirmed dead by suicide after her remains were found in Shenandoah State Park, police said.
Nicole Mittendorff, a 31-year-old Fairfax County firefighter, was last heard from on April 13, and she was found dead on April 21, according to Virginia state police. On April 22, the medical examiner's office confirmed that Mittendorff had died by suicide-hanging, WJLA reports.
Officers found a suicide note on Mittendorff's car days before discovering her body, according to ABC News. The contents of the note have not been revealed.
Now, the fire department is investigating reports of bullying after posts on the online message board Fairfax Underground were discovered, in which Mittendorff was referred to as "ugly" and a "slut." Other women in the fire department were also reportedly the targets of hateful posts on the forum.
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On April 23, Fire Chief Richard Bowers issued a statement following the discovery of Mittendorff's body, according to WJLA:
I would like to take a minute to address the local web forum posts that so many of you have been discussing regarding Firefighter-Nicole Mittendorff. We at Fairfax Fire and Rescue are aware of the posts and are looking into the matter. I assure you that my department cannot and will not tolerate bullying of any kind. At this time, we are respecting the privacy of Firefighter-Paramedic Mittendorff's family, and providing support to the men and women of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department who are grieving under these challenging circumstances. We will thoroughly investigate this matter and take any appropriate actions needed. However, right now we ask that we be allowed to grieve the loss of one of our own.
Some of the posts on the forum are believed to have been made by Mittendorff's coworkers in the Fairfax County Fire Department, where she worked for three years leading up to her death.