In the early morning hours of September 17th, 2009, a beautiful young woman named Mitrice Richardson was released into the night from police custody without a phone, or any way to get home. Her body was found almost a year later. The mysterious circumstances surrounding her death remain unsolved.
On the evening of September 16, 2009, The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from the Malibu/Lost Hills Station received a call from the affluent, upscale restaurant of Geoffrey’s, with the employees of the establishment claiming a woman was acting erratically, bizarre, and was refusing to pay her bill.
Beginning otherwise as a typical Southern Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon, 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson graduate of Cal State Fullerton, who normally had dinner with her great grandmother on Wednesdays, decides to switch course. Feeling compelled to embrace the cool breeze of the ocean on her skin, she heads to Malibu and begins her 40-mile trek along the Pacific Coast highway.
As Mitrice ventures into the outskirts of Malibu, just as the sun begins to set, she is captivated by the luminescent beams of lights beating off the golden sign of Geoffrey’s and makes the decision to pull into the restaurant, a pivotal decision that would change the lives of many as they knew it.
Mitrice pulls into the parking lot of Geoffrey’s and is greeted by the Valet. He quickly lets her know it is valet parking only and rushes off to park another guest’s vehicle. When he returns he finds Mitrice no longer in her vehicle, but in his vehicle rummaging through his CDs and speaking in broken sentences. Startled and frazzled the Valet asks what Mitrice is doing in his vehicle and she responds “I’m here to avenge Michael Jackson's death”. The Valet removes Mitrice from his vehicle and ushers her in the direction of the restaurant.
The unusual behavior of Mitrice doesn’t end there. Mitrice orders a $65 steak and cocktail and notices a lively bunch enjoying their meal a few tables over, with a smile never leaving her face, she asks to join them. The group is intrigued by Mitrice’s abnormal behavior but welcomes her to their table. Mitrice goes on to talk about how she is from Mars, her mother was mother earth, and the ocean was calling her. Once the group settles their bill and exits the restaurant, Mitrice attempts to follow but is stopped by the manager as she has did not pay for her bill. Not appearing hostile or angry, the manager asks if there is anyone they can call to pay the bill for her after she claimed she didn't have any money.
At approximately 9:30 pm, 91-year-old Mildred Harris, Mitrice’s great-grandmother, receives a phone call from Geoffrey’s. She attempts to give her credit card information over the phone to settle the bill, but they could not accept it without a signature. With no way to pay her bill, the employees of Geoffrey’s contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department about Mitrice.
60 miles away in Eastern Los Angeles, Mitrice’s mother, Latice, is made aware of the unusual situation occurring at that very moment. She calls Geoffrey’s directly and finds out Mitrice has just been taken into custody by the officers. They go on to tell her about the behavior Mitrice had displayed, and that Mitrice’s vehicle was about to towed to a location very close to the restaurant, but far from the Lost Hills Station where the police had taken Mitrice. Feeling helpless, and unsure what to do, Latice calls the Lost Hills station and confirms with the deputy a woman is en route to the station from Geoffrey’s. Unable to pick up her daughter from the station, Latice is worried about Mitrice’s well-being and doesn’t want her released in the middle of the night without a phone or vehicle. The Deputy assures Latice that she will be contacted once Mitrice arrives at the station, but that call never came.
As soon as Latice wakes up the following morning she calls the Lost Hills station hoping to figure out how to get Mitrice home. She is told that Mitrice was released 5 hours earlier at about 12:30 am. They claimed they had no reason to hold her because she had no criminal record and was not exhibiting signs of mental incapacitation, despite her unusual behavior. Mitrice was released into the dark gloomy night without any form of communication, transportation, or assistance from officers. According to Steven Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, officers said, “You can stay here if you wish. You can stay in a cell, but you can stay here, but she declined that offer”.
Panic begins to set in as Latice becomes aware Mitrice has not spoken to anyone since being released from the station, and she realized the moment she had feared the most was here. Immediately sensing something was not right, Latice calls back the Sheriff’s Office and asks how long she would have to wait to file a missing person’s report. The Deputy, seeing Mitrice was released just hours ago, encourages her to wait 24 hours before reporting her missing. With nothing left to do but wait, Latice questions how Mitrice could have possibly been released without a mental evaluation?
At about 6:30 AM that Thursday morning, The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department receives a call from a Monte Nido community resident, located about 7 miles from the station. The resident, a former news anchor, reported a young, strange woman was in his backyard. When asked if she was okay, she responded that she was just “resting.” Once he called the police, she was gone. It was later confirmed that young woman was Mitrice Richardson by cadaver dogs that were able to catch her scent in his backyard.
But how did Mitrice get 7 miles away without her vehicle?
Monte Nido is a vast landscape of mountains and terrain, a location that would be difficult to navigate for a non-local, especially in the dark hours of the night. According to Mitrice’s family members, Mitrice was known to be afraid of the dark.
On September 18th, Mitrice’s family members gather together to discuss Mitrice's bizarre behavior in the days leading up to her disappearance. They begin to see the warning signs that something with Mitrice was not right. Mitrice had been sending erratic text messages, that did not make sense, almost gibberish. The day before she disappeared she visited her aunt’s house and left business cards from her go-go dancing job scattered everywhere. The strangest occurrence being an unusual note left on Latices husband windshield with “black women scorned” written across it, a smiley face, and had been signed off with a kiss.
In the days before Mitrice disappeared, she was posting unusual things on Facebook, and Myspace. Posting at all hours of the night, investigators were unable to understand when she slept. A psychologist that works with the LAPD assessed Mitrice was exhibiting signs of a mental health condition, possibly bipolar disorder.
During the subsequent investigation, the family of Mitrice is made aware they found money and her wallet inside her car, with officers somehow overlooking it the night she was arrested.
Days pass with unanswered questions, repeated attempts to get Mitrice’s police report are overlooked. Mitrice’s family attempts to access police footage of Mitrice at the station that night, but their request is denied. LAPD cited “they need to follow proper protocol in order to release information to the family,” and they had no footage to even give to Mitrice’s family.
Feeling like their pleas to police were going unanswered. The family of Mitrice hired civil rights lawyer, Leo J. Terrell, who assembles a press conference gathered in front of the Lost Hills Station on Thursday, September 24th, 2009, demanding action of the Police Department. Terrell said at the press conference “If Mitrices name was Spears or Lohan, they would have never let her walkout by herself. They would have escorted her home.”
Months later, as the New year quickly rang in, tensions between Mitrice’s Family and the Los Angeles Police Department continue to grow, a meeting is called between the Sheriff and Captain of Lost Hills. Things quickly take a turn when it comes to light the Police Department did indeed have footage of Mitrice the night she was arrested. They claimed they misunderstood, thinking Mitrice’s family was asking for footage of Mitrice outside the station not a video of Mitrice in the station.
On January 9th, 2010 the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department organized one of the largest searches in the history of LAPD. An 18 square mile search in Malibu Canyon with over 300 trained volunteers participating in air and ground searches. Mitrice was still not found.
Just 3 weeks later, and almost 300 miles away in Las Vegas, Mitrice’s Father, Michael Richardson, alerts authorities that he believes he saw his daughter Mitrice in an area known for prostitution on the Las Vegas Strip. Michael called out to Mitrice but lost her in the crowd. Latice firmly believes that wasn’t her daughter and believes she never made it out of Malibu Canyon.
On June 26th, 2010, Latice and her lawyer file 6 lawsuits against the LA County Sheriff’s Department for negligence and wrongful death. Around the same time, there is another sighting of Mitrice, by a high school friend. At around 3 AM, in a Las Vegas casino, he claimed to have seen Mitrice. He called out to her, but the woman appeared nervous and ran off.
On August 9th, 2010 Malibu State Park Rangers are hiking along the area of Dark Canyon, a vastly remote area, just a few miles from where Mitrice was last seen, searching for any illegal marijuana growing in the area. This area is said to be a very difficult place to stumble upon and very hard to get through. Upon their quest, they discover the mummified naked remains of an African American curly haired woman. Ignoring the proper protocol, the woman was airlifted out of Dark Canyon. The woman was later confirmed to be Mitrice Richardson. A ranch known for producing pornography was adjacent to where Mitrice was found, but no connection has been determined.
Multiple residents in the area reported to have heard screams in the area several nights after Mitrice disappeared, but despite this, Mitrice’s death was deemed not to be a homicide, and no foul play occurred. The cause of death was ruled to be undetermined.
What happened to this beautiful, intellectual, talented woman? Why would police let her go in the middle of the night with no phone or vehicle? Why was she acting so strangely? How did Mitrice end up dead in that creek bed? Too many unanswered questions have consumed the Richardson Family. We need to find out what exactly happened to Mitrice Richardson.
Please sign this petition to re-open Mitrice Richardson’s Case: