Santa Rosa attorney working on high-profile case goes missing

UPDATE 3/2/16:  Sonoma County Sheriff Coroner’s Office said Tuesday that Santa Rosa resident Steven Mitchell’s body was discovered on Monday morning near Bodega Dunes, south of Salmon Creek.  His body had washed up on shore.  The medical examiner will do a positive identification.

ORIGINAL STORY:  A Santa Rosa attorney who is representing a deputy in a high profile case has gone missing.  Steven Mitchell, 56, was last seen at his home around 9 a.m. on Saturday.  He must have left the home because his wife called the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at 8 p.m. to report that she had not heard from Steven all day.

On Sunday, his wife told the police she called him on his cell phone, and although he did not pick up she knew he was in the Bodega Bay area.  The authorities began searching and found his car parked on Carlevaro Way.  Inside the car was his cellphone and some clothing items. Authorities searched the area but Steven was not found, and as of Tuesday the search has been called off.

The case Steven was working on was representing a deputy who is accused in fatally shooting Andy Lopez, 13, as he held a AK-47 pellet rifle in Oct. 2013.  The judge ruled last month that the boy’s family could proceed to trial with their wrongful death lawsuit against Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus, who mistaken the pellet rifle for a real gone and shot Lopez.

Judge Rene Chouteau said concern over his [Steven’s]  whereabouts was mounting. He described him as “an excellent attorney and a wonderful human being,” to the Press Democrate.

“He tried many cases in front of me,” the judge said. “He’s one of the foremost lawyers in Sonoma County. We hope for the best.”

Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar disappears in April, 2005. 

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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