Week 15: No Response Yet on Request that FBI Get Involved in Search for Mitrice Richardson Who Disappeared in Mid-September
• Petition to Have Federal Government Join Current Missing Person Investigation Team Nears 5000 Signatures
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
It’s not overstatement to describe Washington, DC as a ghost town between late December and the first week of the new year, so it is not too surprising that there is no formal reply yet to the request by Representative Maxine Waters that the FBI become involved in the case of the 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton honors graduate who reportedly departed from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station before dawn on Sept. 17 and has been missing for 15 weeks.
Representative Waters has asked the FBI to initiate an investigation into the disappearance of the young black woman, Mitrice Richardson, and the circumstances of her Malibu arrest and subsequent booking and release from Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department custody.
In a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller two weeks ago, 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.” The LAPD is the lead agency in the search because Richardson is a Los Angeles resident.
Waters, a Democrat, represents the 35th Congressional District, which includes the South Los Angeles area where Richardson lives with her great-grandmother. Richardson, who was preparing to begin substitute teaching and planned to work on a doctorate in clinical psychology, mysteriously vanished after walking out of the Lost Hills Station, located 40 miles from her home, alone, inadequately attired for cold weather, and without money, cell phone or means of transportation at 12:25 a.m. on Sept. 17.
Richardson had been booked on two misdemeanor counts after being placed under citizen’s arrest several hours earlier by personnel at Geoffrey’s restaurant for not paying an $89.51 dinner tab. Her speech and behavior were described as strange by people in the restaurant, but when she was taken to Lost Hills, sheriff’s personnel there determined that she was lucid and there were no grounds to detain her.
However, last month, journal entries found in the woman’s car, which was impounded at time of her arrest—a questionable procedure in its own right—were interpreted by professionals as indicative of extreme fatigue (up to a week of possible sleep deprivation) and other signs of mental stress.
Waters, a member of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, which is responsible for oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, added extra clout to her message when she said she is “concerned about the failure of the FBI Los Angeles Regional Office to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mitrice’s disappearance.”
Waters added 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.”
She reiterates the 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.”
Bolstering Waters’ request for FBI intervention are the efforts of an online activist group whose concerns include social, economic and criminal justice. Change.org has collected 4277 signatures toward a goal of 5000 signatures on a petition urging state and federal elected and appointed officials to initiate a federal investigation of the Richardson case.
In addition to the effort to “help find Richardson,” the group wants “to ensure that this does not happen to additional persons.” The petition is at the group’s website: www.change.org
LAPD Detective Charles Knolls indicated that law enforcement agencies are “planning a search for additional clues in January” in the Malibu/Lost Hills area. 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.