FAIRFIELD — The body of a woman was found Tuesday afternoon by a police dog in the woods near the home where a Fairfield woman who had been missing about three weeks was living with her husband and in-laws.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, wouldn’t say Tuesday whether authorities believe the body is that of Valerie Tieman, 34, who was reportedly last seen Aug. 30 when she was with her husband, Luc Tieman, at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Skowhegan.

“There has been a body located,” McCausland said at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday outside the home at 628 Norridgewock Road, which is also Route 139.

The body was found in the woods by a police dog about 200 to 300 yards from the home, which is owned by Luc Tieman’s parents, McCausland said. He said a dog found the body four minutes after the search started, and the Tiemans were not at home when the search was conducted.

“Everyone in the family is being cooperative, including Luc,” McCausland said, also describing the case as a “death investigation.”

At 3:39 p.m., a state medical examiner’s office van containing the body drove away from the Tieman property. McCausland said the body would be taken to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta for an autopsy and positive identification, and that would likely happen Wednesday.

Maine State Police and game wardens started searching the property around noon Tuesday, according to McCausland. At the scene, police walked in and out of the woods near the log cabin home. Investigators wearing gloves and fabric shoe coverings walked between the state police mobile crime lab and the woods.

Crime scene tape was hung at the entrance to the dirt driveway, where logs and cut firewood were piled near the road. Shortly after 2 p.m., authorities carried a tarp and pickaxes into the woods.

By 2:30 p.m., both McCausland and John Morris, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, were at the scene and walked into the woods with state police.

‘THAT POOR WOMAN’

McCausland last week issued a press release saying state police detectives were reviewing Wal-Mart surveillance video and financial records and conducting interviews with the Tieman family and friends.

On Aug. 30, Valerie Tieman was reportedly in the couple’s pickup truck — a red Chevy Silverado — while Luc Tieman went into Wal-Mart. Luc Tieman told police she was gone when he returned to the truck a short time later, police said.

Valerie Tieman’s parents, who live in South Carolina and couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday, reported their daughter missing to the Fairfield Police Department on Sept. 9.

Meanwhile, friends of the couple say Valerie Tieman is a sweet and caring person who was trained as a hairdresser and cosmetologist but did not work out of the home while she was living in Fairfield. She acted with the Recycled Shakespeare Co., a theater troupe based in Fairfield.

“Everyone who knows her loves her,” Emily Rowden, whose family started the theater group, said Thursday. “We all love her.”

Before police announced a body had been found Tuesday, Karen Pullen, a neighbor who lives across the street from the Tiemans, said Valerie and Luc Tieman moved into the home with his parents at the beginning of this past summer. Pullen said Luc Tieman’s father, Alan, is a sixth-grade teacher at Benton Elementary School and his mother, whose name she did not know, is a substitute teacher there.

Pullen said she has lived in her home four years and the Tiemans — Luc’s parents — were living across the road when she moved in.

“They’re quiet. They keep to themselves,” she said of the parents. “They are very nice. He cuts lilacs off his trees and leaves some for me. He helped my fiancé with the mailbox and the driveway. He’s been out there working on the woodpile very slowly.”

Pullen said she had not met Luc or Valerie Tieman but once saw her walking up and down the road, looking upset. “They’re good neighbors and I have no complaints,” Pullen said. “All I can do is pray for a good outcome for Valerie.”

Pullen also said she had not seen Luc Tieman’s red pickup truck since Thursday, when police announced Valerie Tieman was missing.

After learning Tuesday afternoon that a woman’s body was found, Pullen expressed shock.

“Oh, my God — that poor woman,” she said.

MORE WORK TO DO

McCausland said police would be securing the Tieman property all night Tuesday and Wednesday but declined to say if the house would be searched.

“There’s a lot more work to do here, now that we’ve recovered the remains,” he said.

Asked where Luc Tieman was when the search took place, McCausland said he did not know. He said no one had been arrested Wednesday, and no one was facing charges.

The log cabin home of Luc Tieman’s parents is set back from busy Norridgewock Road on an incline and is partially blocked from view by hardwoods and tall evergreens. An American flag blows in the breeze near the house. Fairfield police were at the scene, helping to keep people out of the property.

According to Luc Tieman’s Facebook page, he attended Messalonskee High School in Oakland and was formerly in the U.S. Army. A friend said he is disabled.

In several Facebook messages to a Morning Sentinel reporter from Thursday through Monday, Luc Tieman said his wife had “run off” before — though he wouldn’t elaborate further — and he was not mad at her, but just wanted her back.

He agreed to an in-person interview with the Morning Sentinel late Monday afternoon and asked that a reporter meet him on Norridgewock Road because he did not want people at his parents’ house. However, he postponed the interview at the last minute, saying in a Facebook message that his family was now discouraging him from speaking publicly.

“Hopefully they will find her or she will turn herself in by then,” he wrote.

He did not return Facebook messages sent to him Tuesday while police were searching his parents’ property.

In an interview Monday with WCSH TV, Luc Tieman said it was “not like her” to be missing so long without contacting anyone and said he was on “good terms” with his wife before she went missing. Yet he also said in the same interview that Valerie had told him the day she went missing that she’d leave and never come back.

“I just want her to come out,” he told the TV station Monday. “Don’t be scared. No one’s going to get her. No one cares what she’s done.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17