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Drone to search Malibu canyons for Mitrice Richardson

April 8, 2010 |  9:25 am

Mitrice A team of engineers from San Diego State University will use a small unmanned aircraft Thursday to search for a missing woman in Malibu.

The drone, equipped with high-resolution cameras, will be able to dip into canyons that search teams have had difficulty accessing by helicopter and on foot, said Chip Croft, who has helped lead the search for Mitrice Richardson since she went missing in September.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will assist with the drone search and helped cover the costs to bring it to Malibu, Croft said.

The drone, which is from SDSU’s Immersive Visualization Center, has been used in the past to find the remains of missing people after traditional search efforts fail. Croft, who is a working on a documentary about Richardson’s disappearance, said he first learned about the drone after talking to the family of Amber Dubois, an Escondido teenager who disappeared last year.

The drone was used in the high-profile search for Chelsea King, a San Diego teenager who went missing Feb. 25. 

Richardson, 24, a Cal State Fullerton graduate, disappeared after she was released from the Malibu-Lost Hills sheriff's station after midnight on Sept. 17, 2009, without a car, purse or cellphone. Richardson had been arrested earlier that night at a Malibu restaurant for not paying her bill. Restaurant staff told police she was acting strangely.

Authorities have searched the hills and canyons of Malibu several times. So far, they have found no trace of her.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Mitrice Richardson.

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