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Family and friends of missing woman Mitrice Richardson plan fundraiser to hire a private investigator

July 7, 2010 |  9:51 am

Family and friends of a young woman missing since she was released from a Los Angeles County sheriff’s station almost 10 months ago plan to host a fundraising event Sunday to collect money to hire a private investigator to help search for the woman.

Mitrice Richardson, who turned 25 in April, has not been seen since she was released from the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station in the early morning of Sept. 17, after having been arrested for failing to pay a restaurant dinner bill. She was without her cellphone, purse or car, which had been impounded, relatives said.

Richardson’s family want to hire renowned private investigator Lawrence Olmstead, according to a statement released by Richardson’s family. Olmstead has helped in cases such as last year’s rape and murder of Southern California teen Amber Dubois by convicted sex offender John Gardner and the 1997 killing of actor Bill Cosby’s son.

Richardson’s father, Michael Richardson said in the statement that the fundraiser was necessary because “I have exhausted my savings and reduced my method of living severely” since his daughter’s disappearance.

Private donors and corporations have contributed several items to be raffled off during Sunday’s event at Leimert Park, including a 22-inch flat-screen television, a digital camera and a personally autographed jersey from New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce.

Last month, Richardson’s mother, Latice Sutton, filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials. The suit alleges that authorities neglected to provide Richardson with a medical or psychiatric evaluation after she was seen to be behaving in an infantile manner in video footage taken of her in a holding cell.

The Sheriff’s Department has always maintained that Richardson seemed lucid and normal during the several hours she was held at the station.

“Some people want to believe Mitrice is dead because they want her to be, but right about now I am thinking very differently,” Michael Richardson said in the statement.

The fundraiser is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the park on Crenshaw Boulevard, between 43rd Street and Vernon Avenue.

Anyone with information regarding Richardson's disappearance is asked to call the Los Angeles Police Department Robbery-Homicide Division at (213) 486-6900.

-- Ann M. Simmons