Above left - Stephen in 1996. His sisters say this is the most accurate likeness of him.
Stephen making a purchase at a local shop the day before his disappearance. These are the clothes he was last seen in leaving his sisters house at Beverly Hills NSW on 20/03/1007
....Stephen I hope that you are safe and well wherever you are. We think of you every day. Your grandmother has passed on since your disappearance, which I thought you might like to know. PLEASE do consider making that one phone call that could end this heart ache to us all. There is lots of love and support waiting for you at home. Please come home.
- your sister Sandra
Name: MITCHELL Stephen Sex: Male
Date of Birth: 1971
At Time of Disappearance
Age: 35 Height (cm):177 Build: Medium
Hair Colour: Brown Eye Colour: Blue Complexion: Fair
Nationality: Racial Appearance: Caucasian
Stephen Mitchell was last seen in the Mortdale area of Sydney on 20 March 2007.
Stephen often walks from Mortdale to Beverly Hills and through Olds Park on Forest Road in Penshurst. He walked to the shops on Morts Road, Mortdale. He sometimes went on the train to the Jannali beachfront area, was recognised at the takeaway shops there and he liked the surf shops. On March 20th Stephen left his sister's house and was not himself, he has been suffering from depression and has been diagnosed with an illness for which he requires medication. Stephen did not return home that day and has not been sighted since. Stephen is a quiet man who is very withdrawn and would not usually come to people's attention. Please keep an eye out for Stephen if you live in any of the areas mentioned, it's possible he's living on the streets or if he liked the ocean he may be in one of those areas mentioned, or near Cronulla or Kurnell. If you have any information about Stephen's whereabouts please contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 or this website.
Stephen's sister Sandra has told me about some possible sightings of Stephen since his disappearance and we believe it's valuable to include those here, in case he revisits any of these places.
The possible sightings are as follows;
On our 1st search it was Jannali shops. The fish shop owners aren't too sure if it was just prior to or after his disappearance.
A couple of months after Stephen's disappearance the 2nd sighting was at the Eastern Suburbs Cemetery, Mascot. He was seen purchasing a drink with loose change at the shop and then boarded a bus for the city. He was described down to the fact of him having chipped front teeth. (Previous to this sighting we spoke with the staff at the shop and placed posters around.)
Another sighting was at Sutherland hospital, apparently he walked into Sutherland Emergency and turned around and walked out. This information was told to me by a Cronulla police officer. He said at the time he didn't know he was missing. and had overheard his name at the hospital.
Another was travelling on a train between Miranda and Hurstville station. A nurse contacted the local paper (The Leader) and a student from a local school, she passed on her information to her principal hence passed onto Hurstville police.
On 21 July, 2008 an unexplained flower was found at my mother's resting place at Eastern Suburbs Cemetery. This flower was not there the previous week (we have regular visitors to her resting place). It is an imitation blue flower.
Missing Persons Week
August 7, 2007
By Laura Speranza - The Leader
Sick with worry: Sisters Sandra Lang (left), Tracey Mitchell and Kelly
Mitchell say the disappearance of their brother has sent the family on a
roller-coaster ride of emotions. ``It's the unknown that I can't cope with,''
Mrs Lang said. Picture: Lisa McMahon
The sisters of missing Mortdale man Stephen Mitchell have not stopped looking for him since he disappeared five months ago.
Sandra Lang, Tracey Mitchell and Kelly Mitchell say they have put their life on hold to search for their younger brother who disappeared on March 20.
Stephen, 35, left his sister Tracey's house in Beverly Hills that morning but he never made it to his flat.
His bank accounts and mobile phone have not been used since his disappearance.
Mrs Lang said Stephen suffered from schizophrenia.
The family discovered he had stopped taking his medication after he went missing.
The link between mental illness and missing people will be highlighted this week as Australia marks National Missing Persons Week, which began yesterday.
Inspector Mark McCallum of the NSW Police Missing Persons Unit said mental illness had been a factor in about 23 per cent of the 10,000 disappearances last year.
Mrs Lang is hoping this year's campaign will help other families from losing a loved one.
''Maybe the next family can prevent their loved ones from vanishing,'' Mrs Lang said.
''If I had known more about Stephen's mental illness, maybe he wouldn't be missing today.''
Mrs Lang said there had been several sightings of Stephen at Jannali shops.
''We've been looking for Stephen for five months but it seems like eternity,'' Mrs Lang said.
''It's very hard to go about your normal day to day things.
''I get so drained thinking and wondering where he is.
''My heart goes out to people who have been looking for longer.''
Stephen is 170cm tall with brown hair, blue eyes and a chipped front tooth.
Missing Persons Hotline: 1800 025 091
HIS family knew he suffered from depression, but the fact Stephen Mitchell had schizophrenia was not revealed until after he disappeared.
Four-and-a-half months later and with no word, they are still soul searching about how the 35-year-old's disappearance could have been prevented.
"In the last week or so before he left, we could tell Stephen wasn't himself," his sister, Sandra Lang, said. "But I still wonder whether, if there had been a bit more general awareness out there, I could have stopped him leaving."
Mr Mitchell is one of 10,000 people reported missing in NSW in the past year. About 23 per cent have a mental illness or disorder.
Keen to promote the significance of the link, police are promoting Missing Persons Week starting today with the slogan: "How do you find someone when they struggle to find themselves?".
Mr Mitchell was last seen leaving the Beverly Hills home of another sister on the morning of March 20.
The previous evening he had stayed over to watch the season's opening Monday night football clash between South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters.
"We've rung accommodation places, done posters, put our own ads in newspapers," Mrs Lang said.
"We've gone doorknocking around his unit and the local shops, I've visited hostels for the homeless and called most of the hospitals up and down the coast.
"It's been very time consuming, having a family of three children myself but you can't give up, you've got to soldier on."
Despite his emotional fragility, her brother had never wandered off before, Mrs Lang said.
"The police have told me to expect the worst, but my own thoughts change each day," Mrs Lang said.
NSW Missing Persons Unit commander Inspector Mark McCallum said most missing people with mental health issues suffered depression.
"It can also be that they've absconded from an institution, which is fairly common," he said.
"But the relatives and friends as well as the people with problems themselves need to make sure they get help before they go missing."
Asked if she had a message for her brother, Mrs Lang said: "There's plenty of love and support at home waiting for you. We're willing to give you whatever help you need."
Ms Lang, of Peakhurst Heights, said: "He stayed the previous night at my sister's house in Beverly Hills. He was watching a rugby league game between South Sydney and the Roosters.''
Mr Mitchell left on the morning of March 20 but did not arrive home.
Ms Lang said that when she visited his apartment nine days later it was clear he had stopped taking prescribed anti-depressants and had not been home.
"I don't know what to believe,'' she said. ``There are so many things that have gone through my head. My thoughts change every day as to what happened.
"We know that Stephen was on medication for depression before his disappearance. After his disappearance we were told by his GP that he had schizophrenia. Was it the case that he left my sister's and became disoriented?''
The past 12 months have provided grim answers for police investigating people who went missing in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas.
Six people were featured in the Leader as part of Missing Persons Week in 2008.
Stephen Mitchell is among three who police fear will never be found alive and next week will apply to formally end the investigation into his disappearance.
Hurstville police inspector Tod Barden said they suspect if Mr Mitchell is not dead he has changed his identity and will not be found until he chooses.
A MORTDALE man missing for five years was officially pronounced dead by the NSW State Coroner's Court last Thursday.
But his family told the Leader they hoped to find him one day.
Stephen Mitchell, 37, (pictured) left his sister's Beverly Hills house on March 20, 2007, and was never seen again.
His sister, Sandra Lang, of Peakhurst Heights, said it was hard to fathom that he was pronounced dead when there was a chance he was alive.
"We are still holding hope that he will knock on our door one day," Ms Lang said.
Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund said she was satisfied Mr Mitchell had died sometime after his disappearance.
Ms Freund said she could make no finding regarding the manner of his death.
The Leader ran several stories about his disappearance.
Ms Lang told police at the time he disappeared that it was out of character for her brother not to contact his family. She said he watched a rugby league game at his sister's home.
Police investigating his disappearance told an inquest he withdrew $270 from the Caltex Service station at Narwee on March 19 and had not accessed his Commonwealth bank account since. More than $1800 remains in the account.
A brief of evidence included a report from a doctor who diagnosed Mr Mitchell with schizophrenia and prescribed medication. Investigating police said he could have committed suicide, met with foul play or changed his identity.