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Federal probe sought in case of woman who disappeared outside Malibu sheriff's station

December 2, 2009 |  6:47 am

The family of Mitrice Richardson, who went missing after her release from the Malibu sheriff's station in September, will call today for a federal investigation into her disappearance.

The request is the latest effort by the family to find Richardson, whose disappearance has garnered much attention, including segments on cable TV news shows and a cover story in People magazine.

The trail has gone cold since late October, when the family said there were sightings of Richardson in South Los Angeles.

By all accounts, the Cal State Fullerton graduate who was living in South L.A. was responsible, employed and working on a way to pay for graduate school. Detectives, family and friends believe her disappearance is probably related to a psychological problem that surfaced the night of Sept. 16 when Richardson went to Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu, told people she was from Mars and began spouting gibberish.

Detectives interviewed a group of Geoffrey's diners she joined uninvited -- who described her as odd but entertaining -- and her colleagues at the Mercantile Freight office in Santa Fe Springs who last saw her at work the day of her arrest. LAPD Det. Steven Eguchi said they told him that she was "giddy, really giggly. Out of the ordinary."

Richardson's odd behavior -- as well as her failure to pay for a steak and a drink -- prompted restaurant staff members to call sheriff's deputies. Richardson was arrested, then released at 1:25 a.m., having no car, purse or cellphone.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department has since come under fire for not holding her for a psychological evaluation. The Los Angeles Police Department is handling the matter as a missing-person case, assigning it to the robbery-homicide division, which has greater resources.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Mitrice Richardson; courtesy of the Richardson family

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