A body found in an abandoned shed between Purcellville and Hamilton has been identified as that of a Gainesville man who had been missing for nearly two years, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said.

William Sims, 50, who was reported missing by family members in Purcellville on Oct. 1, 2003, committed suicide, the Virginia medical examiner concluded.

His remains were found June 10 by several teenagers who were exploring the shed near Ballanger Lane, about three miles from the relatives' home, said sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell. The remains were in the attic area, he said.

When Sims disappeared, Purcellville police searched the immediate area, put up posters with his photo and listed him on a nationwide missing-person service, said David R. Simpson, Purcellville's police chief.

At the time of his disappearance, Sims was said to be depressed and suffering from a heart ailment.

"He basically walked off one day from his family," Simpson said. "He had left no notes or anything [saying he was] intending to harm himself, but the family knew he was upset."

The case was initially handled as a homicide, Troxell said, as department policy dictates for any "unattended" death.

Last week, an investigation of forensic evidence at the scene and an autopsy concluded that Sims had committed suicide.

"It is believed he was there for a significant amount of time," Troxell said.

WILLIAM SIMS