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L.A. County sheriff orders homicide probe in Mitrice Richardson disappearance

Mitrice RichardsonLos Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has ordered a homicide investigation into the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson, though officials stressed they have no evidence she is dead.

Baca's decision today allows a three-person sheriff's homicide team to join the Los Angeles Police Department's search for the 24-year-old who mysteriously vanished after walking out of the Lost Hills sheriff's station nearly three months ago.

"He has declared it a homicide investigation. That does not mean the sheriff believes Ms. Richardson is dead. But by opening up a homicide investigation, it does allow the Sheriff's Department to put some of our top investigators on the case," said Steve Whitmore, a department spokesman.

Whitmore said a lieutenant and two detectives would join LAPD detectives already investigating Richardson's Sept. 24 disappearance.

Based on that investigation and the contents of her diaries, authorities believe that days before she was arrested for not paying her bill at a Malibu restaurant, the 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton graduate had gone without sleep for as many as five nights and "had a major mental breakdown," said LAPD Det. Chuck Knolls.

Mental health professionals who read the journals at the request of police say Richardson may have been suffering from severe bipolar disorder, Knolls said.

Police uncovered four or five journals -- small bound books as well as spiral notebooks -- in the car she drove Sept. 16 to Geoffrey's in Malibu, where she behaved bizarrely, spoke in gibberish and ordered a steak dinner and cocktail.

-- Richard Winton

Comments () | Archives (45)

I don't care if she was barking mad!! They should NEVER have turned her lose with no way to get back to her car, out alone in a dark and dangerous place. None of us would want our daughter's out there alone like that.

She was arrested at a restaurant on the PCH, and released bear the 101, in the middle of the night, with no money, car, phone or anything? Where was she supposed to go? Did they contact anyone to pick her up? The homicide investigation should be OF the Sheriff's Department. Why isn't the FBI investigating this?

By time,that someone is taking charge, my problem I'm having with this is that it took three months for someone to take a higher step in finding this my friends daughter but every time I look in the news if the person is White or another race they make it into a high profile case just last night another missing person but had a almost 20min media time about tis young man...... no matter what was or is her problem she is still a missing person......this could be your CHILD.

I truly, truly hope they find her safe and well.

She was an adult, of adult age and equal rights. SHE chose to leave the station. She wasn't thrown out. By law, you cannot hold someone who is mentally ill unless they prove themselves to be a danger to themselves or others. I can easily see how outraged the community might have become if they held her against her will "for her safety."

It is sad, but the decision not to wait for a ride was hers.

"It does allow the Sheriff's Department to put some of our top investigators on the case." So they weren't on the case before now? Who was? This has been a baffling and high profile disappearance that deserved the most seasoned and intuitive detectives.

Re: Pat D's comments: I completely agree. And shame on them for waiting three months to put their best staff on this.

Since they check you coming in when arrested,they should do the same upon release might spare lives??

there are lots of wrongs here.One she is probably bieng sexually sought out after by her most current employer or patrons at her "job" as a go-go dancer in a lesbian nightclub.Two that same group (homosexuals) are and always have been addicted to crystall meth.Her lifestyle and situation suggest this as this conduct is not befitting of a normal college graduate.Here is a young woman bieng supplied with drugs in an attempt to sexually inducing her into lesbianism.I see no mention of a husband,boyfriend or even a girlfriend for that matter.Where were her women friends when she needed them the most,she must have made her one phone call to someone as required by law at the police station.Why in the hell when a woman is arrested for something as minor as an unpaid meal,is her purse wallet and cell phone,not given to her by the police or tow-truck driver to police.I am not a policeman but I know enough to thing "Gee,maybe their is money or credit/debit card in this purse which can satisfy the complaintent,or maybe she will need this purse with I.D. and cell phone,upon her release"?Why that personal property is withheld from her is an injustice in itself to any person in this predicament.The lesbian community ought to be ashamed of themselves and their actions concerning one of their own.I beg and implore someone in that "community" to come forward with the information that is due to her mother,father,family.and her friends,because I may have spewed a lot of unwelcomed thoughts above.But the bottom line is were are those friends (sexual partners) now.

Too bad Patice Richardson from Sout h L.A. wasn't Snow White from Blank Beach or Such and Such Hills. They would've found her within the first 24 hours..

Wow . . . THREE MONTHS AFTER SHE GOES MISSING they're going to put their best detectives on the case? This sounds like they're trying to avoid the federal investigation that the father is publicly demanding.

It's about time they look deeply into this young woman's disapperance. It has always seemed strange that she would be released at that hour without access to her car or a ride to pick her up, no matter how old she was, it just did not fit the situation they claimed to have found her in. Yes, please continue to search for this young woman.

There's a typo in the headline for this story that appears on the front page: "Homocide probe opened in Mitrice Richardson case." It's spelled homicide.

Such a tragedy. The Lost Hills police should immediately release the video tape of her walking out of the building to confirm that what they say is true. That she wasn't escorted out by an officer. The Lost Hills sheriffs who were on duty that night should ALL be suspended until she is found. Shame on them for putting her in danger.

'None of us would want our daughter's out there alone like that.'

Then dumping the guys on their own is fine...got it.

So much for equality under the law.

She's an adult. She was cleared to leave on her own accord.

From the news that I've seen on this case..she made phone calls...they should be looking at those she called and why THEY didn't come and pick her up...or did someone?

She could have waited inside the station for her ride...she wasn't forced out in the cold.

It's so easy to blame the police...didn't this woman call her grandma to pay her bill at the restaurant....did grandma call the family to pick her up...???

I find it incredible that sheriff's authorities would let this woman out to walk the roadside at 1 in the morning with no car, money, ID--nothing. And on top of all the rest of it it's damned COLD in Malibu at that time of night at that time of year. It just defies belief.

THEY are absolutely responsible and I'd love to hear their excuses. If this is normal policy(particularly when the initial problem was a call from Geoffrey's alluding to her "crazy" behavior-a sign she was ill)then obviously it has to be changed-sadly too late for Mitrice.
I'm just stunned and disgusted. What if this had been me?

If she didn't know there was some retail space like a Jack in the Box due East, she would be absolutely without a clue as where to go. There appears to be nothing open around there. I hope she is o.k. but I would search for a hit and run scenario and then move to a lost hiking scenario. That station does mostly traffic stuff, like Nick Nolte coming over the hill smashed or Mel Gibson. The Sheriff's Homicide Dept. is like putting Sherlock Holmes on the case compared to Barney Fife. They are much better equipped than the Lost Hills station, who is lost on this one.

She has been missing for 3 months, and the LA County Sheriff's department knows this, because they let her walk out of a station (probably alone, I don't know), and someone is finally opening up a homicide investigation? What has taken so long?

Who cares about this one person? Too much drama over some crazy lady how about all the crazies walking around downtown. All this hoopla cause she's Black! What a bunch of BS!!!

This is too bad, she is a very pretty woman

The media has already painted the LAPD guilty in this case. Remember, this is America... the police cant hold you longer than necessary. The people crying fowl that the police let her go are the same ones that cry about the jails being over crowded and police brutality. I hope this story has a happy ending and that this young woman is found safe, but I have a bad feeling that no matter what happens, the City will feel the pressure and end up paying a large settlement to the family . Guarantee it is already in the works.

Are you serious, Pat? It's not the job of the police to get you home safely after you are released from jail. Why is it that in the society that we live in we expect other people to do everything for us? She was free to go, the police did their part and if anything blame should be placed on her family for not picking her up...wow what a concept...blame the family for not picking her up and not the police.

That's too bad for this poor girl and her family. Hopefully they find her alive. She's cute too!

Her family was unaware of her mental state prior to her going missing? Not even a clue she was having mental problems? This can't be good. This means the people closest tov her didn't relize she may have needed help? How then would the police have known her mental state? They don't know her back personal back ground. Yes they could of handeled it better, but with little knowldge of her unstable condition they let her go after she said she was Ok to leave on her own . I pray she's found safe soon..

This is such a horrible situation. LASD screwed this up. There is NO WAY she should have been released from the police station, at that time, without any resources. Isn't it illegal to not carry identification on your persons? Did they let her go illegally? Shame on Geoffrey's restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu by not allowing her grandmother to pay the bill by phone. They needed a 'faxed' signature. You would think this resturant would have better resources.. Guess where I'll never eat??

BLACK PARENTS (i'm black so don't trip):
Here is yet another reason to stop droppin the ball on the kids and stop expecting others to take care of US. Getting mad after the fact without taking proper preventive measures is USELESS..

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