I think you're on the right track, but I would say that when you call this device "a wordy period," which is a pretty good description of it, you're even there giving it too much credit.
It is essentially meaningless and certainly serves no grammatical purpose. People do it all the time. I've caught myself doing it, and have beaten myself severely for the same.
I think the best way to explain the impulse is this: You've tried to make a point or explain something, and you feel like you haven't sufficiently finalized it. You therefore feel compelled to say, "so..." at the end of your little speech, trailing off awkwardly, in the hope that it implies an eloquent conclusion to whatever you've just been trying to say.
Maybe the point you have just made is totally fine. You may nevertheless say "so..." because you are not confident that the other person agrees, approves, or understands. Or, maybe you've just spoken perfect nonsense and, rather than starting over and trying to get it right, you say "so..." in the hopes that the missing logic will be supplied by your listener and credited to you.
In either case, I would call it a pretty bad habit - one to be avoided!