Mitrice Richardson’s Family Members Hope to Get Some High-Tech Assistance in Search Effort
• There’s No Letup in Their Effort to Keep the Missing Woman in the Public Eye
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Family members of 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton honors graduate, Mitrice Richardson, who now has been missing for almost six months, are excited that new search efforts may be undertaken, but express frustration on other fronts related to the case of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station’s release of the woman who has not been seen since last Sept. 17.
The unusual specifics of Mitrice Richardson’s booking on two field-citable counts, the issue of her mental state, the impounding of her car with her purse and cell phone inside, her pre-dawn release and subsequent disappearance, and her family’s allegations that Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel have evidence—including videotapes—that they are not releasing, are the subject of a series of weekly articles that have appeared in the Malibu Surfside News (www.malibusurfsidenews.com).
The missing woman’s mother, Latice Sutton, and other family members and friends are hopeful that approval soon will be granted for the next LASD—and City of Los Angeles Police Department, the lead agency in what is still a missing person case—search to be assisted by a drone from San Diego State University’s Immersive Visualization Center, the Viz Center. The drone is a small unmanned aircraft that takes high resolution video and photos.
According to Charles Croft, a videographer who has been working with the mother’s family, “the [Viz Center] drone has the capability of going down into canyons and can search better than any helicopter. It is not affected by winds as much and can fly extremely low to obtain very high resolution, close-up images and video.”
Croft said the drone, also known as a “bird.” has already been used in a number of missing person searches, and law enforcement “and the drone people are set to use the aircraft soon.” He added, “The drone has discovered people and [skeletal] remains in about seven different instances when large searches failed.”
Sutton expresses frustration that there has been no effort yet to get a petition with over 5000 signatures to Washington, D.C, to try to involve the FBI and possibly the U.S. Department of Justice.
The missing woman’s mother said she is unable to get any information from Change.org, the Web group that hosted the petition drive. Sutton said, “A lot of people worked really hard to get the signatures, and they are asking why there has been no action in getting the petition to the FBI.”
The Friends Group of Pasadena (The Pasadena Commission on the Status of Women) plans a public conference on March 17 at the Pasadena Public Library from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss nighttime custody release policies.
Among the panelists are Ronda Hampton, the psychologist who was Richardson’s college mentor and a family friend; LASD’s chief of field operations for the region that includes Malibu, Neal Tyler; and Deputy Chief Attorney Benjamin Jones of the Office of Independent Review, which has yet to announce the results of its investigation of Lost Hills procedures in the Richardson case that Sheriff Lee Baca has publicly stated was handled “by the book.” For conference specifics, see www.thefriendsgroup.org
For general information about Richardson and public search updates, see Latice Sutton’s website at www. findmitrice.info; the father Michael Richardson’s website at www.bring mitricehome.org; contact Dr. Ronda Hampton at 951-660-8031; or LAPD Homicide Lt. Charles Knolls and LAPD Detective Steven Eguchi at 213-486-6900.