Body found off coast confirmed as missing Roseville restaurateur

The Mendocino County Coroner's office has confirmed that the body found by divers Sunday in the Pacific Ocean near Gualala is Stephen Pease, a missing Roseville restaurateur.

Pease, owner of Sammy's Rockin' Island Bar & Grill and several other Roseville businesses, was last seen Nov. 3 when he checked out of a Fort Bragg motel and drove off in a rental car.

Identification of the body was made more difficult by the length of time it was in the water and that it was clothed in only a shoe and a sock, said Capt. Greg Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

"The body was in such poor condition that visual identification was not possible," Van Patten said.

It's not known how the body came to be in the water. It was spotted by recreational divers about 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Because of the steep coastal terrain, the body had to be lifted by helicopter out of the water. Van Patten said it is not uncommon for bodies that have been in the water for several days to lose their clothing.

He said there was no obvious signs of trauma.

Kat and Chris Maudru, friends of Pease, spearheaded the effort to find him.

"Our worst fears were realized," Chris Mandru wrote in a statement. "Steve was an incredible person that touched the lives of so many people. He was a kind, caring, compassionate man."

Pease disappeared from his family and friends on Halloween after telling his ex-wife he needed to "clear his head." He rented a car in Portland and apparently drove to Fort Bragg.

Pease was a key player in Roseville's efforts to revitalize downtown. He was loaned $1.5 million to launch his restaurant, which used rocker Sammy Hagar as its theme. He was also involved in several other downtown real estate deals.