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Burned body found in a Santa Fe Springs trash bin is not that of Mitrice Richardson, police say [Updated]

October 8, 2009 |  2:28 pm

Mitrice Los Angeles police detectives investigating the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson, who vanished from Malibu Canyon three weeks ago, said they are certain the badly burned body found in a Santa Fe Springs trash bin is not the missing woman.

“Bottom line is it’s not Mitrice Richardson,” said Det. Chuck Knolls of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The detectives got a flurry of calls this morning about sightings of Richardson, 24, that they are following up. One was from a doctor who said he saw a seemingly disoriented woman on the beach in Santa Monica one afternoon three or four weeks ago.

“If it’s four weeks ago, it’s not Mitrice. If it’s three weeks ago, it could be her,” Knolls said.

The doctor said he spoke to her.

“She said she had dropped her keys in the sand and was looking for them,” Knolls said.

Richardson did not have any keys on her when she was released from sheriff's custody the night she disappeared.

The burned body of a woman found in the parking lot of a Santa Fe Springs manufacturer was about a mile from the freight office where Richardson worked. [Updated at 2:50 p.m.:  A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that police thought the body might be Richardson's because she worked in Santa Fe Springs.]

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s decision to release Richardson at 1:25 a.m. Sept. 17 with no car, purse or cellphone continues to provoke criticism and scrutiny. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called this week for the Sheriff’s Department to review its procedures.

“I think we need to revisit the policy of the Sheriff’s Department as it relates to releasing someone from custody under these circumstances,” he said.

The staff at Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu, who called the Sheriff’s Department when Richardson could not pay her dinner bill, said she seemed mentally disturbed. A sheriff’s spokesman said deputies at the Lost Hills station, where she was detained, thought she was behaving normally.

They also told her she could stay overnight at the station if she wanted.

Ridley-Thomas said the department should examine “what alternatives could be put in place” to prevent a person who might have mental problems from being allowed to walk out of the station.

Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes the South LA area where Richardson was living, also got the Board of Supervisors to offer a $10,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of the 24-year-old woman.

—Carla Hall

Photo: Mitrice Richardson has been missing for three weeks.

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