RENO — The body of Madelyn Lingenfelter, 19, who’s been missing since September 19, was found about 50 feet from Mt. Rose Highway on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the remains, discovered near a parking lot where Lingenfelter was last seen, were those of the missing teen.
“We have no reason to believe there was foul play involved,” said Officer Travis Warren of the Reno Police Department. “Tragically, all the evidence points toward suicide.”
According to the police department, Lingenfelter, known to her friends as Maddy, sent several suicide letters before she left home on September 19.
On September 21, Lingenfelter’s family located her 2004 Toyota Prius in a parking lot at the Tannenbaum Event Center on Mt. Rose Highway. Her backpack, cell phone and keys were nowhere to be found.
A manager at the event center told police he’d seen a woman fitting Lingenfelter’s description sitting in the car.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office search & rescue team spent four days combing the woods for the missing teen, including in the area where her remains turned up, near Mt. Rose Highway south of Sunridge Drive.
“We were in the vicinity but we didn’t see her,” said Sgt. John Hamilton, SAR Commander. “Our team is taking it pretty hard.”
Sgt. Hamilton explained the site, although near the highway, is behind a wall and down a steep hill that’s covered in dense trees.
“Search and rescue is no guarantee,” said a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, Chief Deputy Russ Pedersen. “There are lots of factors at play.”
On Monday afternoon, a couple looking for a Christmas tree spotted human remains and called the sheriff’s office. On Tuesday, law enforcement personnel scoured the area for evidence.
“Evidence we found on scene indicates suicide,” said Officer Warren, but he declined to provide details. Warren did confirm Lingenfelter’s backpack was found with her body.