VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Police say the body found Sunday afternoon in Virginia Beach has been identified as Diane Hartzog who was reported missing on Christmas Eve.
Hartzog, 59, of Wilimington, N.C., was last seen walking south in the 3500 block of Sandfiddler Road, toward the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
No foul play is suspected in her death.
A homeowner discovered the body under a pine tree, behind the "Bahama Mama" rental property Sunday afternoon in the 3600 block of Sandfiddler Road. The property is three houses down from the home Hartzog rented with family.
Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera visited the scene Monday. Cervera said he wanted to see the location in person because he had kept in close contact with the Hartzog family.
"My condolences to the Hartzog family," Cervera said. "This is really a traumatic case and I have been following it since the incident occurred. I have been giving constant updates about our efforts to try and locate Miss Hartzog."
Neighbors in the quiet beach community say they immediately thought of Hartzog when they heard someone found a body.
"Of course, the first thought was if it's the lady who had been missing," neighbor Claire Cardwell said. "I didn't know if she had ever been found."
The search for Hartzog was extensive. Police used K-9s, helicopters and ground crews. They scoured most of Sandbridge, including the "Bahama Mama" property, but, in the end, found nothing.
"I just want everyone to know Sandbridge is not a tight neighborhood," Cervera said. "Look at the flora in this area. You have your sand dunes, underbrush growth, you have heavy growth in the area. And, it's a large area to search."
Many neighbors wondered how it is possible a body went unnoticed for so long.
"I am not suspicious," Cardwell said. "But it is quite strange that a body could be out here that long."
And with the sad news of the identification, also comes reassurance that police do not suspect foul play.
"I would venture to say, in this particular case, it's an isolated incident," Cervera said.
The Hartzog family declined to comment Monday.
The owners of the "Bahama Mama" did not return calls.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.
Michelle Price with Newport News Public Schools told WAVY.com at least three city school buses ran substantially late Wednesday afternoon, delivering children home several hours after dismissal.