Family Is Told FBI Will Not Join Mitrice Richardson Investigation: Major Field Search Yields No Clues to Missing Woman’s Whereabouts
• Family Expresses Appreciation for Saturday’s Effort But Still Holds LASD’s Feet to the Fire
BY ANNE SOBLE
Over 300 members of highly trained and well-equipped search and rescue crews from Los Angeles County and other Southland communities combed an 18-square-mile area of rugged terrain in Malibu Canyon last Saturday and found no new clues to the whereabouts of 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson, who has been missing since Sept. 17.
The 10-hour search, coordinated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, included teams on foot, horseback. mountain bikes and all-terrain vehicles. The LASD Rescue 5 helicopter transported crew members into what would otherwise be inaccessible terrain.
Family members gathered at the search command post, including Richardson’s parents, Latice Sutton and Michael Richardson. They thanked the agencies and volunteers for their efforts, even as they continue to hold the LASD responsible for their daughter’s disappearance.
Mitrice Richardson, a Cal State Fullerton honors graduate preparing to begin substitute teaching and start graduate work in clinical psychology, mysteriously vanished after reportedly walking out of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station at 12:25 a.m. on Sept. 17, 40 miles from her home. She was alone, inadequately attired for cold weather, and without money, cell phone or means of transportation.
Richardson had been booked at Lost Hills on two misdemeanor counts after being placed under citizen’s arrest the evening of Sept. 16 by personnel at Geoffrey’s restaurant for one of the counts—not paying an $89.51 dinner tab.
Richardson’s father says he “was told by Lost Hills that the restaurant’s manager insisted that she be taken in for booking.”
The young woman’s speech and behavior were described by people at the restaurant as “crazy,” but at Lost Hills, LASD personnel said she was lucid and they had no cause to detain her.
The second count was for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana that was reportedly found when deputies searched the woman’s car, which was then impounded, even though both of the charged allegations are usually field citations.
Journal entries found in that vehicle during a subsequent search have been interpreted by mental health professionals to show Richardson may have experienced days of sleep deprivation and was exhibiting signs of mental illness, possibly bipolar disorder.
Michael Richardson is also asserting that he has since determined that his daughter’s vehicle was experiencing mechanical problems, which might explain her being in Malibu when she was.
He told the Malibu Surfside News that the mechanical issue “makes those sheriff’s deputies and the Geoffrey’s manager liars.” He indicated that he will soon make “more information about the car and what it might mean public.”
FBI DENIES REQUEST
Richardson’s father also told The News this week that Sheriff Lee Baca informed him on Tuesday that the FBI has denied a request to become involved in the investigation.
Family members have been adamant that the FBI must be brought into the investigation—currently under the direction of the LAPD because Richardson is a Los Angeles resident—as it has not addressed numerous inconsistencies in official statements.
Michael Richardson said, “The FBI is the only agency that can investigate all 20 of the inconsistencies and suspicions “[connected with LASD spokesperson] Steve Whitmore, [Lost Hills Sheriff’s] Captain Tom Martin and the officers on duty the night of Mitrice’s disappearance.”
Congressmember Maxine Waters, in whose district the woman resides, had asked the FBI to look into the circumstances of her arrest, as well as the handling of her booking and release from LASD custody.
The father said he now wants “a federal grand jury, where individuals can go to jail for perjury and possibly lose their pensions and careers. Only then, will people start talking.”
Michael Richardson paraphrased the LASD stance as one of, “Just keep your mouth shut, they don’t have anything. The father is just shooting off at the mouth. We can fix this as long as no one breaks under pressure.”
The missing woman’s father maintains, “People are just hoping I go away, but Sheriff Baca is not going to save these people. They’re going to jail. It’s taking longer because Sheriff Baca would rather put on the show he did Saturday, than have it hit the air waves that his precious deputies did something wrong to Mitrice Richardson.”
The missing woman’s official LAPD description is “African-American with brown hair and hazel eyes. Five-feet-five to five-feet-six inches tall and weighs about 135 pounds.” She was last seen wearing a Bob Marley dark T-shirt and blue jeans.
For more information, see Latice Sutton’s website at www.findmitrice.info, Michael Richardson’s site at www. bringmitricehome.org, or contact Dr. Ronda Hampton at 951-660-8031, or LAPD Homicide Lieut. Charles Knolls or Detective Steven Eguchi at 213-486-6900.