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Drone to search Malibu canyons for Mitrice Richardson

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.

Comments () | Archives (15)

My thoughts and hopes are with Mitrice and her family and that she will be found safe.

No one can say they haven't gone to a lot of effort to find this lady. That's for sure.

Hopefully this will bring some resolution to a case that has gone on way too long. The Sheriff's Dept. messed
up big time.

I was wondering, How much will this cost? And wouldn't the money be better spent feeding the hungry or helping those who need it.

One night a few years ago, a rock hit my car in the Malibu Canyon area and knocked out my transmission. I started walking looking for a phone. A sheriff's unit stopped me, searched me, then ran me for wants/warrants. After discovering I had a valid driver's license and was not wanted; I asked if they could call me a cab or tow truck, they refused then left me ALONE in the canyon without helping me. Public service at its best. I empathized with the Richardson family. I hope Mitrice is well.

Amazing that the Sheriff would release a female, at midnight, without a car, purse or cell phone, without access to public transportation. [unfortunately, this happens all the time] Where did they expect her to go? Can you image trying to get a ride out of Malibu, from the Lost Hills area? Now a real life is missing - just because of their callousness and irresponsibility. And once again, the tax payers are going to burden the expense of their mistake, by paying for these search operations and obviously the ensuing lawsuit. A tragedy that could have been avoided. Sheriff don’t need to “serve and protect”?

I still find it hinkey that the Sheriff released this gal without any form of communication linkage for her to use. What, they just let her ramble around in the middle of the night? Alone? Total prey for some psycho? How is that looking out for the public? She gets potentially murdered because she failed to pay a restaurant bill? No cell phone? No purse? How can something like this happen? Where is the Sheriff's responsibility for ensuring her protection?

About time!

It will collide with a power line.

I get the feeling something foul happend. Their is no way she wasnt targeted.

Here is a link to see what the young lady looked like the night she was arrested. The pictures the family release may be what they want to remember her has but they are not accurate to her most recent appearance. I hope the young lady is found alive.


I'm afraid this search is now for show. Remains, if there were any, would have long since been scavenged by coyotes, bobcats, and birds. This is a truly bizarre disappearance, and the Sheriff's department should be held accountable for releasing a mentally unstable inmate without an escort.

DONT BREAK THE LAW. DONT GET ARRESTED. Must have issues. Call from station. Wander off like a child. No surprise. Natural selection


"I was wondering, How much will this cost? And wouldn't the money be better spent feeding the hungry or helping those who need it. "

Why are you wasting time posting here?
Shouldn't YOU be out feeding hungry people instead?

Fact is the LASD didnt care for Mitrice's safety, mislead her mother to the time she would be released.
Purposely stranded a woman in a remote location at a late hour, and declined to make an effort to find her making it a task for the LAPD.
So the fact is the only dangerious animals in Malibu Canyon work for the LASD, who changed thier release policy after relizing they may have cost Mitrice her life.


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