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Missing hiker's body found in park

Jim McLellan, of Burke, left, and Jennifer Breeden, right, of Warrenton, and her German Shepherd Jade stand near the trailhead of Dickey Ridge near the entrance to Shenandoah National Park in Front Royal on Friday. The pair are air scent dog handlers with Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association. They were among those searching for missing hiker Tyler Keefer on Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

A missing person posted is tacked to a tree along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park near the Front Royal entrance station on Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Tyler Keefer's bike is locked onto a tree near the trailhead to Dickey Ridge. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Joe Beck

A team of searchers in the Shenandoah National Park discovered the lifeless body of Tyler Keefer, 21, of Front Royal, shortly before noon Friday, park officials said.

A news release from the Park Service said the cause of death is under investigation. Front Royal police Chief Norman Shiflett said Keefer's death was a suicide.

Claire Comer, a public information officer with the Park Service, said the search team found Keefer's body in the Dickey Ridge area of the park, where the search has been concentrated since his family reported him missing Monday.

"We had a team of searchers in the woods this morning, and he was located in the area where we had been searching," Comer said of Keefer.

Keefer's last known location before Friday had been the Dickey Ridge Trailhead on Saturday. The Park Service said his bicycle was found at the trailhead, and he may have gone for a hike in the area.

A combination of park employees, volunteers, and dog teams from several agencies participated in the search over several days. The agencies included the Front Royal Police Department, Virginia Search and Rescue Dogs Association, Dogs East Search and Rescue, Blue and Gray Search and Rescue Dogs and canine team dispatcher Melissa Taylor.

"We're just very appreciative of all the volunteer groups that assisted us and our partnership with the Front Royal Police Department," Comer said.

Shiflett said Keefer's body was found near the Front Royal entrance station to the park. He said the searchers discovered the body while conducting a systematic grid search of the area.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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