The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office is no longer actively searching for an attorney who went missing on the Sonoma Coast Saturday, a sheriff's sergeant said Tuesday.
Steven Mitchell was last seen around 9 a.m. Saturday in his Santa Rosa home and was reported missing by his wife later that night, according to investigators.
Mitchell, 56, is the county’s lead attorney in a high-profile civil suit filed by the family of Andy Lopez, a teen who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in 2013 who mistook his replica rifle for a real one.
Mitchell's wife called the sheriff's office again around 7:10 a.m. Sunday to report her husband's cellphone was last used in the Bodega Bay area, the sheriff's office said.
A sheriff's deputy stationed on the Sonoma Coast and State Parks rangers began a search and Mitchell's car was found parked and unoccupied on Carlevaro Way in Bodega Bay around 8 p.m. Sunday.
There was nothing suspicious about the scene where the vehicle was found and foul play is not suspected in his disappearance, the sheriff's office said. Mitchell's disappearance is now being considered a missing person's case.
Foche said deputies, Sonoma County Search and Rescue as well as the helicopter team Henry-1 joined in the effort to find Mitchell but turned up empty handed after hours of searching.
The sheriff's deputy on the Sonoma Coast searched again Monday, but an active search has been suspended, Sgt. Cecile Foche said.
"We don’t suspect he’s been a victim of foul play or a victim of any type of crime," Foche said.
However, worried friends aren’t giving up hope on Mitchell, the former president of the Sonoma County Bar Association.
"I hope he’s just been lost and will be found – I certainly hope so," fellow attorney Peter Steiner said. "It would be a tremendous blow to so many people, I think, personally and professionally, if he’s not found."
The missing person's case has been turned over to the Violent Crimes Investigation unit as is standard protocol.