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Mitrice Richardson's remains to be exhumed

July 13, 2011 | 10:53 am

Mitrice Authorities are expected Wednesday to exhume the remains of Mitrice Richardson, the missing woman who was found dead almost a year after being released from the Los Angeles County sheriff's Malibu station, her father confirmed.

Richardson’s family is hoping further testing will help determine how the 24-year-old died. Since Richardson's skeleton was discovered in a rugged Malibu Canyon ravine last August, the sheriff’s department has been dogged by criticisms of its handling of the remains.

In February, for example, months after her body was recovered, authorities found eight more bones in the area. That discovery came just a few months after Richardson’s mother said she found a finger bone while at the site memorializing her daughter.

The grim discoveries followed public criticism of the sheriff's department from a prominent coroner’s official who told The Times that deputies had removed Richardson’s remains from the canyon without his permission, possibly violating the law and undermining the thoroughness of the coroner's inquiry.

Sheriff’s officials argued they had no choice because it was getting dark, and animals might have destroyed the remains if they had not acted. A probe into the matter is yet to be completed.

Richardson drew national media attention in September 2009 when she disappeared after being released from the sheriff's Lost Hills/Malibu station around midnight without her car, purse or cellphone.

She had been arrested for not paying a dinner bill at Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu.

About 11 months after her disappearance, and a dramatic, wide-scale search, her remains were spotted in a remote Malibu Canyon ravine.

Richardson’s father, Michael, told The Times on Wednesday the body was set to be exhumed by coroner’s officials, probably in the morning, at the Inglewood cemetery where she was buried. He said he kept quiet about the exhumation beforehand to minimize media attention.

He said he got a call from Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter earlier this month telling him that the original remains and the bones found later were going to be reexamined at the insistence of Mitrice’s family.

“My best hope, maybe the finger they found is the fingernail where she scratched somebody, somebody she was in a fight with, something that’s going to give us who did this to her,” Michael Richardson said.

The sheriff’s department had no issue with the family's wishes, spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Winter could not be reached Wednesday morning despite multiple attempts.

Richardson's family has filed suit against LASD for its handling of the case. The department’s watchdog, however, deemed her release from custody as being in line with department policy.


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Photo: Mitrice Richardson. Credit: Richardson family.