North Bay attorney in Lopez case goes missing

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department is searching for a missing man who is an attorney involved in the high profile Andy Lopez shooting case.

Steven Mitchell was last seen on Saturday.

There was no sign of him until Sunday, when his car was found on the Sonoma Coast.  The 56-year-old attorney is a Stanford graduate and worked at a Santa Rosa law office.

The Sheriff's office says his car was discovered Sunday at a parking lot south of Goat Rock State Beach near Jenner.

"Right now we don't have any information to believe that anybody else took his vehicle there. No foul play is suspected so we're going on the premise that he drove his vehicle there himself," Lt. Ed Hoener told KTVU.

But why he drove there and what happened to him after that are a mystery to investigators and to Mitchell's family.

"They expected him back by now. We know he was going to be in the Santa Rosa area and we did not have information that he was going to the coast and the family doesn't know where he might be at this point," said Hoener.

Mitchell was hired by Sonoma County to defend itself against a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Andy Lopez.
The 13 year old was shot to death three years ago by a sheriff's deputy.  Lopez was carrying a very realistic looking toy gun.

Mitchell was involved in an appeal by the county that could delay that case for another year.
There's no sign his professional life has anything to do with his disappearance.

Air and ground crews have searched the coast for the last two days with no sign of Mitchell but Lt. Hoener says they haven't been able to search by boat.

"The seas have been very rough. We have not been able to conduct a waterside search but we have done search of the water from the ground using binoculars and search crews."

Adding to the mystery, Mitchell's cell phone and some clothing were found near his car. Still, authorities won't speculate that this is a potential suicide.

"Until we find him we won't be able to get those answers. So we have, all scenarios are being looked at at this point," Hoener said. The sheriff's department plans to resume its search Tuesday.