(Reuters) - The body of a former White House chef last seen setting off for a hike alone more than a week ago near Taos, New Mexico, was found on Sunday evening, according to the New Mexico State Police.
Searchers found the body of Walter Scheib, 61, off a trail in a spot about 1.7 miles from the base of the trail, the state police said in a statement.
An autopsy and a death investigation are continuing, state police spokeswoman Sergeant Elizabeth Armijo told Reuters in an email.
Last Saturday, Scheib, who had recently moved to the area, embarked on the Yerba Canyon Trail, which reaches altitudes above 12,000 feet and is located north of Taos, according to the state police and Taos Search and Rescue.
Scheib’s vehicle was found on Tuesday in a parking area at the trailhead, the state police said.
Last week, search and rescue teams scoured the rugged mountains above the Taos Ski Valley. Authorities expanded the search based on locations provided by data from Scheib’s cell phone, according to the state police.
Teams searched by ground and air, and were challenged by high mountain peaks, deep canyons, dense vegetation and rough terrain, the state police said.
According to Scheib’s website, www.theamericanchef.com, he served as White House executive chef under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from 1994 until 2005.
“Walter was an outstanding talent. He prepared magnificent dinners for world leaders and delicious family fare for our family and friends,” former first lady Laura Bush said in a statement.
Scheib was initially hired by then-first lady Hillary Clinton, who the website says was “impressed by the comprehensive spa menu Scheib had developed for the Greenbrier resort, as well as his highlighting of American cuisine.”
He is listed as co-author of “White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen,” published in 2007.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Scott Malone, Susan Heavey and Bill Trott