Member of Congress Asks FBI Director for Help in Search for Mitrice Richardson Who Disappeared after Release from Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station in Sept
• Representative Maxine Waters Questions LASD Procedures Regarding 24-Year-Old College Honors Graduate
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Responding to what she describes as an inundation of constituent communications asking for her support, Congressmember Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) has asked the FBI to look into the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson and the circumstances of her Malibu arrest and subsequent booking and release from Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.
Waters represents the South Los Angeles area where Richardson lives with her great-grandmother, Mildred Hughes, 92, the matriarch of a strong, close-knit family that has been devastated by not having heard from the 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton honors graduate for the last 14 weeks.
Richardson, who was preparing to begin substitute teaching and planned to work on a doctorate in clinical psychology, mysteriously vanished after reportedly walking out of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, located 40 miles from her home, alone, without a jacket, money, her cell phone or a means of transportation at 12:25 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Richardson had been booked on two misdemeanor counts after being placed under citizen’s arrest by staffers at Geoffrey’s restaurant for not paying her $89.51 dinner tab several hours earlier. Her speech and behavior were described as strange by people in the restaurant who expressed concern for her safety, but when she was taken to Lost Hills, sheriff’s personnel pronounced her lucid and competent to be released.
Journals and other writings found in the woman’s vehicle, which was impounded at time of her arrest, indicate troubling mental issues.
In a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller last week, Representative Waters said, “Based on reports I have read, there are questions as to whether the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station acted properly in releasing this young woman during the predawn hours without money or transportation, all while she was suffering from what the Los Angeles Police Department’s doctors have concluded to be bipolar disorder.”
Waters represents the 35th Congressional District, and serves on the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, which is responsible for oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Adding in that context, “I am also concerned about the failure of the FBI Los Angeles Regional Office to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mitrice’s disappearance.”
Waters noted that “the FBI has the responsibility to pursue cases implicating federal criminal or civil rights statutes [and] I believe the circumstances and facts of this case warrant bureau involvement.
“Therefore, it is with great urgency that I respectfully request that the FBI open an investigation into Mitrice’s disappearance and the circumstances surrounding her arrest, detention and release from the custody of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.”
When Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca upgraded the Richardson investigation to a homicide case to increase resources last week, it raised concerns—even among her family—that it could mean that the woman is now believed to be dead.
LASD protestations that there is no evidence to indicate this have not allayed concerns. That the Los Angeles Police Department is planning another major search in the Malibu/Lost Hills area is also fueling somber thoughts.
Some family members ask whether the LAPD, the lead agency on the case because Richardson is a Los Angeles resident, is conducting—in emergency parlance—a recovery exercise versus a rescue one.
However, LAPD Detective Charles Knolls said, “We’re planning a search for additional clues in January.” He said, “We’re coordinating the search with the Lost Hills Search and Rescue teams and their volunteer resources. The exact date has not been set.”
Richardson is described on the LAPD blog as an “African-American with brown hair and hazel eyes. The 24-year-old is five-feet-five to five-feet-six inches tall and weighs about 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing a dark shirt and blue jeans.”
For more information about the case and search activities, check the website at www.findmitrice.info or contact Dr. Ronda Hampton at 951-660-8031, or LAPD Detectives Charles Knolls or Steven Eguchi at their new office telephone number 213-486-6900.