Mitrice Richardson’s Family Steps Up Efforts to Involve the FBI
• Congressmember Maxine Waters Cites Missing Woman’s Case in Call for New Legislation
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
The family of Mitrice Richardson, the 24-year-old woman who has now been missing for 19 weeks, is stepping up its call for federal involvement in her mysterious disappearance.
Michael Richardson and Latice Sutton are the parents of the Cal State Fullerton honors graduate who medical experts now think was experiencing a mental breakdown when she began acting bizarrely and said she could not pay a Malibu dinner tab on Sept. 16.
The mother and father may have different opinions about the direction and timing of legal action over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s treatment of the young woman, but they are united in their criticism of the agency that they hold responsible for their daughter’s well-being after she was transported to the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.
The parents and a growing chorus of voices in government and the media question the Lost Hills release of the slight young woman at 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 17. Mitrice Richardson was alone, on foot, poorly clad for the cold temperature, and without money or her cell phone, in a dark and isolated area.
Both parents have repeatedly stated that they think that deputies at the station know more than has been disclosed and station officials are suppressing information and evidence that would shed light on what happened to their daughter.
Michael Richardson stated this week that he is preparing to go to Washington, DC, to personally request that the FBI investigate the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.
He said, “For some reason, people think that we are requesting for the FBI only to get involved in the search [now being directed by the Los Angeles Police Department]. That is not true. There is a cover-up throughout the Lost Hills Station, and I want it unfolded. People [who know things] are scared and don’t want to come forward.”
Richardson stressed, “I’m trying to be patient because we are so close to finding out without [Lost Hills’] tapes and cooperation. With the 5300 signatures we have on a petition, I will go to the steps of the FBI offices and ask for the following if the officers involved do not step forward: the entire station should be dismantled, pending a major federal investigation.”
The missing woman’s father added, “Those who know something are just as guilty. I also will be seeking a new law; Law enforcement [officials] of any kind who break the law should receive double the penalty. I will look at law enforcement personnel abuse cases. I will provide stats on rape and assault cases that have happened in Malibu this year alone.”
Richardson said, “I was trying to wait, but I have to go with what I have because so many people have been turned off by the filing of the negligence claim.”
RICHARDSON PUT ON FBI LIST
On another front, noted Los Angeles civic activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson recently announced that the FBI has officially listed Mitrice Richardson in its National Crime Information Center Missing Persons file. Pending analysis of DNA provided by her mother, Mitrice Richardson is eligible to be listed in its Violent Criminal Apprehension Program and its National Missing Person DNA Database.
Hutchinson has appealed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to become involved in the case.
WATERS CALLS FOR NEW LAW
In other Washington news, Congressmember Maxine Waters, who represents Watts, Mitrice Richardson’s district, has co-sponsored the Help Find the Missing Act (H.R. 3695), which would assist in identifying missing people and solving cases involving those who are missing. The legislation directs the U.S. Attorney General to share information on missing persons and unidentified human remains in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing and Unidentified Person File database with the NamUs database. It also establishes funding for this effort.
In her statement Tuesday at the hearing that the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held on the bill, Waters said, “Last September, a young woman from my district named Mitrice Richardson went missing under questionable circumstances...I believe the local authorities could have done more, earlier in the process, to assist [her] family...Only after months of television appearances, mass mailings, and petitions organized by [her] family and friends did [agencies] begin to devote the necessary resources to find her...Our constituents believe local law enforcement should have the necessary training and resources to investigate and find their missing relatives.”
Waters added, “The legislation would require the Department of Justice to issue a report to law enforcement agencies, coroners, and medical examiners concerning best practices for collecting and reporting information about missing and unidentified persons. While the FBI does not typically investigate all cases involving missing adults, it can certainly do more to provide our local and state authorities with vital tools and information so that they can be more helpful and effective in their investigations.”
Meanwhile, Michael Richardson said he has asked “my attorney to withdraw my claim filing against the county. I have enough on my plate now...trying to recruit people to help me find my child.”