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Missing boater's body found in Long Island Sound

Authorities say they recovered the body of missing boater Spencer Mugford in Long Island Sound about noon Friday.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said a good Samaritan reported locating Mugford's body southeast of Avery Point in Groton.

DEEP spokesman Chris Collibee said the Coast Guard recovered Mugford's body and met DEEP investigators at the Coast Guard's New London station. The body then was identified and Mugford's family was notified, Collibee said.

The Coast Guard suspended a search for Mugford, 20, and Sofia McKenna, 21, last week. The pair left Avery Point in a 14-foot sailboat and last were seen on a white paddle craft in the water near New London Ledge Light in a social media post about 2 a.m. Sunday, May 27.

The Coast Guard said that day both air and water temperatures were at 60 degrees and there were 1- to 2-foot waves.

A Civil Air Patrol aircrew who participated in the search at the Coast Guard's request discovered the sailboat on Monday, May 28, on Truman's Beach near Orient Point, Long Island. The aircrew, based out of the Groton-New London Airport, radioed the Coast Guard, who then notified the Southold, N.Y., Police Department, which verified the boat was the one the missing boaters took from Avery Point.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said Friday the body was taken to the medical examiner.

He said the Coast Guard would not reactivate its search for McKenna. The New London station, he said, "is still aware they should be on a lookout. We're working with our partner agencies and helping them out."

The University of Connecticut at Avery Point, where Mugford was a former student, sent a message to students and staff, offering sympathy to Mugford's family and friends, and counseling to students.

"We know that many of you at Avery Point counted Spencer among your friends," the school said. "We share your grief as we all absorb this difficult news, and hope his family finds comfort in knowing how valued he was in the UConn community."

McKenna's car was found at the UConn Avery Point campus. Her mother, Michelle, told WFSB last week that she received seven phone calls between 2:05 and 2:09 a.m. May 27 while she was sleeping, and said she believed it was her daughter calling from Mugford's phone.

The Coast Guard searched more than 120 square miles with several vessels, including a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station New London, and aircraft, including an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft, both from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod.

A memorial service for Mugford is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at Watch Hill Chapel in Westerly. A vigil for both boaters is planned for 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Eastern Point Beach in Groton.

b.kail@theday.com

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to properly identify who discovered the sailboat near Orient Point.

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