The family of a former Cal State Fullerton student who has been missing more than two months after her release from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills substation is launching a campaign for a federal investigation into the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.
Mitrice Richardson’s father said he is reaching out for the support of community leaders such as U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, whose 35th District includes much of South Los Angeles, where Mitrice lived, and adjacent communities, and Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry.
“I need their support because they have a voice,” Michael Richardson said.
Richardson said he is hoping a federal investigation will shed light on “inconsistencies” surrounding his daughter’s arrest and release from jail. He is also asking the community to sign a petition to launch a federal investigation, which he said has been signed by about 3,200 people and is posted on www.bringmitricehome.org.
His quest to get answers doesn’t stop there. He said he will be meeting with Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca on Dec. 11.
“A conductor doesn’t know how to play all the instruments, but knows how they are supposed to sound,” Richardson said. “I hope he hears a bad note being played.”
Richardson said he wants the three officers involved in his daughter’s arrest to be put on unpaid administrative leave while an investigation is being conducted, he said.
Richardson said spending Thanksgiving Day without his only child was extremely difficult: “I miss my daughter and I want her back.”
Mitrice Richardson, a 2009 graduate of Cal State Fullerton, vanished after she was released from the substation Sept. 17. She was about 40 miles from her South Los Angeles home in a place she didn’t know. She had no car, no phone, no money and no jacket.
Richardson, 24, has not been heard from since, but her father believes she is alive.
Sightings of Mitrice Richardson have been reported in Los Angeles and Orange counties and as far away as San Jose. Her father tries to check out as many leads as possible.
Richardson was arrested the night of Sept. 16 after she dined at Geoffrey’s Malibu – an oceanfront restaurant. She ordered a steak and a drink, but when presented with the $89 bill, she said she had no money.
Richardson told restaurant employees that she was from Mars and started to talk to them in a made-up language, according to Jeff Peterson, the restaurant’s owner.
Richardson was booked on suspicion of failing to pay for dinner and on suspicion of being in possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, which was found in her car. Her white 1990 Honda Civic was impounded.
Family and friends believe Richardson’s odd behavior might be the result of a mental condition that manifested itself the day she was arrested.
The family has questioned the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s handling of her arrest and release and for not holding her for a psychological evaluation.
Los Angeles sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore has said there was no reason to hold her because she did not exhibit any signs of mental illness or intoxication and she signed several release forms.
Richardson is described as African American with brown hair and hazel-brown eyes. She is about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and about 125 pounds. She was last seen wearing a brown Bob Marley T-shirt and blue jeans. She has tattoos on her lower abdomen and the back of her neck.
A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Richardson’s whereabouts.
Police are asking anyone with information about her whereabouts or anyone who was at Geoffrey’s Malibu on Sept. 16 to call Los Angeles police detectives Chuck Knolls or Steven Eguchi at 213-485-2531.