Search suspended for missing boaters off Groton shoreline

GROTON -- The Coast Guard suspended their search for two missing boaters off of the coast of Groton.

The decision was made around 10:30 p.m. Monday after the Coast Guard found a 14-foot white and blue sailboat with no mast on Truman Beach near Greenport, New York.

Police say Spencer Mugford, 21, and Sofia McKenna, 21, were last seen aboard what was thought to be a white, tandem kayak on Snapchat at 2 a.m. Sunday. Officials later discovered that the sailboat found in New York was the same boat the pair were traveling on. 

"Suspending a search for missing or overdue boaters is never an easy decision to make after an extensive search,” said Cmdr. Andrew Ely, chief of response, Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “We search for every person as if we are searching for one of our own. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Spencer Mugford and Sofia McKenna.”

“As a mother I’m begging for anybody to just help find them at this point,” said Michelle McKenna, Sofia McKenna’s mother.

Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound command center received notification at approximately 6:30 p.m., Sunday from the City of Groton Police Department that Mugford and McKenna were missing.

When Mugford failed to make an event Sunday morning, his parents notified the City of Groton Police Department to report him missing. Mugford and McKenna’s departure point was unknown, and there was no response from their cell phones.

The Coast Guard along with state and local agencies searched for a total of 71 hours and saturated a 2025 square-mile area trying to locate the two missing people in the water before suspending their search.

Michelle realized Sunday afternoon that she had received a series of missed calls just after two in the morning, minutes after a Snapchat was posted of Sofia and her friend, Spencer.

It was the last time the pair was seen.

“I just think that something bad happened, and that Sofia was trying to call me,” said Michelle.

“From 2:05 repeatedly, then 2:06, 2:07, then it went 2:08, 2:08, then 2:09,” said Michelle. “I got the phone call from Spencer’s phone. I know Spencer didn’t know my phone number so I know it was my daughter calling me, and I didn’t get her phone call, didn’t even know she called until the afternoon when everybody started to panic, and that’s when I knew something was wrong.”

“The texts started sending as green, and I just instantly, I had a bad feeling,” said Austin Parrow, Sofia’s boyfriend.

“When the police came they brought a dog, and the dog followed the tracks right over to the water, and they saw track marks, and that’s when the dog stopped smelling,” said Michelle. “So, I know they’re out there.”

Now, hundreds of people from near and far are reaching out to this family as they search frantically for their missing children.

“I keep just saying Sofia, but Sofia and Spencer,” said Michelle. “We need to find them regardless at this point.”

Those who know Sofia said they believe she will be found.

“She’s tough so don’t give up on her because she’s, she’s gonna be found we know that we pray, and the only thing I can say is please say a prayer just say her name just yell scream do whatever,” said Bernadette Ever, a family friend of the McKenna’s. “Anything you can because we want her back as much as you would want your daughter back, and she’s like a daughter to me.”

The McKenna’s said they are thankful for all the help they have received but they are not ready for that help to fade away.

“Part of me is hoping for a miracle, but at this point I am just praying to just get them back,” said Michelle. “As a parent, you have to, you have to find your kids.”

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact police immediately.