Group fights for answers about missing Sofia McKenna

Groton — They call themselves "Sofia's Army" and, a year after Sofia McKenna disappeared, they are not giving up the fight.

The group's members, in the local area and as far away as the United Kingdom, have joined together to keep McKenna's story at the forefront of people's minds. 

McKenna, 21, and Spencer Mugford, 20, left Avery Point on a mini sailboat in the early morning of Sunday, May 27, 2018, according to state police. The Southold Police Department on Long Island, N.Y., located the 14-foot boat May 28, on Truman's Beach near Orient Point. Mugford's body was found on June 8, 2018, in Long Island Sound southeast of Avery Point, but McKenna was never found.

Through a "Finding Sofia McKenna" Facebook page, missing person fliers and bumper stickers, the group is working to spread awareness about McKenna, said Valerie Mayze, who administrates the page after she created it last July and is the mother of a friend of McKenna.  

Mayze said the group knows there were Snapchat posts, including a photo of McKenna at New London Ledge Light House. But the group doesn't know why seven calls were placed from Mugford's phone to McKenna's mother between 2:05 and 2:09 a.m. on May 27, 2018, and what happened to McKenna. They said Mugford would not have known the mother's number, so they believe McKenna made those calls using his phone.

Carol Fort, Sofia's cousin and a family liaison to group members, said the group is passionate about finding McKenna and what happened that night.

"We are a team, and as a team, we have worked day and night, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, for the past year, searching for answers," she said.

The group has a social media following of more than 3,200 people, with members distributing hundreds of fliers, including at local marinas, gas stations and stores, and all over New England and as far south as South Carolina and west as California, Mayze said. They created a new bumper sticker and are working on a plan for "Sofia's Army" bracelets. They research every found body that could potentially be her and have told their story to media outlets, among other efforts, Mayze said.

The group members are hoping anyone with information will come forward and won't stop fighting until they find answers about McKenna, who friends describe as having a sweet and fun personality and as a go-getter who worked hard to become a massage therapist. Mayze said the group wants to provide closure for McKenna's family.

The group hopes to spread her story to as many people as possible, including in New York.

"That's our hope: we want to get everybody aware that this girl is missing and she deserves, like any other human being, to be found, or at least searched for, at least not given up on," she said. "It's been almost a year, but she's out there somewhere."

Michelle McKenna, Sofia's mother, said the page means the world to her and is a godsend, though a bittersweet one.

"I'm in awe that so many people are searching for her and sharing her page," she said in a statement. "I know that I am not the only parent out there that has lost a child and that is awful, to say the least, but I 'literally' lost my Sofia & just want to find her. I couldn't do this on my own. Without FSM I don't know what I would do."

Case still active

State police said the investigation into the disappearance of McKenna, who is listed as a missing person on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, is active and ongoing.

"Over the last year witnesses, friends and family of Sofia have been interviewed. Additionally, all evidence in this case continues to be analyzed and reviewed in an effort to collect more information about what may have happened," Trooper 1st Class Tanya Compagnone, a spokeswoman for the state police, said by email. "Detectives have been following up on any and all leads over these last months and are always looking for new information and tips from the public."

Detective Randy Silvestri of the state police Troop E Barracks in Montville, the lead investigator, is encouraging anyone with information to call him at (860) 848-6566.

Anna Bratz, a member of the group who is working to organize a search of the area near Long Island where the boat was found, said the group won't give up.

"There's always answers," Mayze added. "You just have to keep looking."

The Finding Sofia McKenna Facebook page is available at bit.ly/FindSofiaFB.

k.drelich@theday.com

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