Family of Missing Dracut Man Searching, Hoping for Answers
DRACUT -- Sophan Sou tries not to think about it, but he’s reminded whenever someone calls. They ask about his eldest son, Porith Stephon Sou.
“I just try to pretend like he’s out there, hanging out with his friends, living somewhere,” said Sophan, 46. “Until otherwise. Until something else comes up.”
The painful truth is that Porith -- or Stephon as his family calls him -- has been missing since March 8. According to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the 21-year-old Dracut man had been hiking near the Mount Washington Auto Road. His vehicle was located at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center nearly a week later.
The team of searchers who looked for Stephon included Fish and Game conservation officers, U.S. Forest Service snow rangers, Mountain Rescue Services, and Androscoggin Valley Search & Rescue. The Mount Washington Observatory and Mount Washington Auto Road provided logistical support to get the searchers above the tree line.
With the search for Stephon later suspended due to deep snow and lack of specificity, Stephon’s family is now desperate for help -- for any clues that will lead to him. They are worried and frustrated. They just want to know if he’s OK.
“It’s day-by-day. We’re just hoping that something comes up, but it’s just hard with no answers,” said Sophan’s sister, Linda Chan Flynn. “We’ve dug down almost every hole that we possibly can go and there’s just been nothing.”
Last Thursday, the brother and sister sat in Sophan’s Dracut home with somber faces. They described Stephon as quiet and sweet, a young man who mostly kept to himself. Hiking was a new hobby for him.
They expressed worry over Stephon and frustration that the few leads they’ve received have crumbled.
Several weeks ago, Linda, 35, of Lowell, led a large search team of relatives to search for her nephew in New Hampshire. Everyone dispersed. They walked around nearby towns, checked inside convenience stores and hiking gear shops. No sign of Stephon. Before that, Linda said the family searched locally because on March 10 Stephon’s cell phone pinged off a cell tower in the Westford area.
According to Lt. Mark Ober of N.H. Fish & Game, the spot where Stephon’s vehicle was found is the trailhead leading up to the entrance to Tuckerman Ravine, a popular glacial cirque on Mount Washington’s eastern flank.
“We don’t know for sure if he went there,” Ober said last week. “We’re assuming.”
He added that snow rangers with the U.S. Forest Service have been going on informal searches to see if they can find any clues, but so far none have been found.
“We don’t know if he’s up there or, if he is, where he might have gone,” Ober said. “That’s what makes it so difficult. It’s such a huge area.”
The last time Sophan saw his son was on the late morning of March 8. They had an argument.
“I just wanted him to clean up his room and he kind of got upset,” Sophan recalled. “I keep on asking him, bothering him, bugging him, so he just got up and took off.”
Stephon never told his dad where he was going.
Linda, meanwhile, has become the spokesperson for her family. On Facebook, she’s let others know her nephew has still not been found.
“4 WEEKS #MISSING please help #FindStephonSou,” she wrote on April 5. “We have no leads and really appreciate you continuing to share and be on the lookout.”
“We just want to know he is safe!” Linda wrote on April 12.
Each of Linda’s public posts include a photo of a smiling Stephon. She urges anyone with information to contact the Dracut Police Department, N.H. Fish & Game, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
As each week passes, Linda and her brother have begun to wonder if perhaps Stephon doesn’t want to come home. Her nephew is 21, Linda reasoned, and maybe he wants to live his own life. Have his own space.
“He’s an adult,” Sophan said.
“He’s an adult,” his sister repeated. “But we want to know.”
Later that Thursday evening, Sophan stepped inside Stephon’s room. There was a neatly made bed and a Dragon Ball Z poster on the closet door. The father of two ended up tidying the space himself. It was a mess before, Sophan said, so he tossed away clothes no longer worn by his son and picked up broken glass from the hardwood floor. Sophan said he wants Stephon to have a nice, clean room. He will give his son money to buy new clothes should he return.
“If he comes back, I just want him to have a fresh start,” Sophan said. “I’m still going to accept him with open arms... he’s always welcome here.”