Mitrice Richardson Update: Woman Released after Malibu Dinner Tab Arrest Is Still Missing
• County Board of Supervisors Offer $10,000 Reward for Information Leading to the 24-Year Old's Whereabouts
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Law enforcement agencies and family members say they are still no closer to knowing the whereabouts of a 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton honor graduate last seen leaving the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lost Hills Station before dawn on Thursday, Sept. 17.
This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors—on a motion by Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas—approved the offering of a $10,000 reward for information leading to the location of Mitrice Richardson of Los Angeles.
Richardson was released from the Lost Hills facility on Agoura Road two weeks ago at approximately 1:25 a.m., about five hours after she was arrested in Malibu on suspicion of defrauding an innkeeper—failing to pay for dinner—and suspicion of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in her vehicle, according to official reports.
LASD officials said Richardson was alone at Geoffrey’s restaurant the evening of Sept. 16, ordered a steak dinner and a single alcoholic beverage, then was unable to pay the $89 bill.
The restaurant manager called sheriff’s deputies to the location and made a citizen’s arrest at about 8:30 p.m., and the woman was taken into custody.
Richardson’s 1990 Honda Civic, parked in the restaurant lot, was searched. Deputies found the marijuana and added that allegation.
Restaurant staff and sheriff’s department personnel offer markedly different descriptions of Richardson’s condition when she was taken into custody.
Geoffrey’s staffers said the woman appeared either substance-impaired or psychologically stressed, while Lost Hills reports indicate that she passed a field sobriety test and appeared lucid after being booked.
When it was determined there were no warrants against Richardson, she was told she would be released on the two counts.
According to Lost Hills Capt. Tom Martin and Lost Hills Operations Lieut. Steve Smith, the jailer on duty—Sharon Cummings—let Richardson use a station phone because the pay phone in the lobby wasn’t working.
Both men said the jailer heard Richardson speaking on the phone, but didn’t know whom she had called. When The News asked Smith whether there have been efforts to trace the numbers called, he said he wasn’t sure it has been done yet and that might be up to the Los Angeles Police Department, as the LAPD is the lead agency in the missing person investigation.
Late last week, the LAPD transferred the case from its Missing Persons Unit to the Robbery Homicide Division “because it is a larger division with more personnel and resources,” according to Detective Steve Eguchi, who with Detective Chuck Knolls, is now overseeing the investigation.
Eguchi said, “This is an ongoing investigation. We are working on this case on a daily basis...we have followed up on a number of sightings and continue to do so.”
The LAPD detective said despite the intensity of the search and rescue operation last Saturday that drew personnel and volunteers from law enforcement jurisdictions throughout the Southland (see page 13), “Any potential leads from that effort have since been eliminated.”
Eguchi said it’s hoped that widespread announcement of the county reward will provide additional impetus for someone to step forward with information that will help to find the missing woman.
Richardson is described on the LAPD blog as “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 brown Bob Marley T-shirt and blue jeans.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detectives Knolls or Eguchi at 213-485-2531 (Robbery Homicide Division), or 213-485-5381 (Missing Persons Unit).
Richardson’s family also made a plea for information on its Web site at www.findmitrice.info, which states that the woman “suffers from mental health issues [and] deserves better treatment than the Malibu sheriff’s gave.” The family has also discussed preparing its own reward package for information about the woman from whom there has been no word for two weeks.