Mitrice Richardson: Not Just Another Birthday
BY ANNE SOBLE
Friday, April 30, is Mitrice Richardson’s 25th birthday. If she is alive, it will be the most important birthday she has ever celebrated, whether she is aware what day it is, or even knows who she is.
Richardson’s birthday will bring together family members and friends to reaffirm their efforts to find the young woman, or if she is not alive, to determine what happened to her. The hope that a recent drone search might provide some clues to her whereabouts proved disappointing. Still, that the high-tech equipment did not find any skeletal remains buoys those who want to believe that she did not die in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains where she was left to fend for herself on foot in an isolated area.
Richardson has been missing for almost eight months with no word to family and friends and no attempt to access her bank funds. There is disbelief that someone could disappear so completely. However, some of the recent high profile missing person cases have demonstrated that human remains can be within a few feet of search areas, passed by people daily and not be located without the help of the person who placed them there.
Friday’s gathering of family and friends emphasizes the need to keep the public spotlight on Richardson’s disappearance. In acknowledgement of her 25th birthday, they are asking everyone who can to print 25 flyers and post them at 25 locations (flyers can be downloaded at findmitrice.info). In addition, participants will release a “rainbow” of biodegradable multi-colored balloons as a representation of her “colorful and energetic personality.”
In collaboration with Maurice DuBois, the father of murdered teenager Amber DuBois who has become a missing persons advocate, a massive two-day search for Richardson is tentatively planned for June 5 and 6. Details will follow as soon as they are available.
There is hardly a news organization in Southern California and many other parts of the nation that hasn’t done an article on Richardson, the African-American honors college graduate and beauty contestant who was last seen during booking—for field citable charges—at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station for not paying an $89.51 dinner bill at a Malibu restaurant Sept. 16. She was released from Lost Hills at 12:30 a.m. the next morning without her car, purse, cell phone, or even a jacket.
Mental health experts think Richardson was exhausted from not having slept for almost a week, was lapsing in and out of coherence, and may have been early-stage bipolar. All of this appears to have been missed by the authorities who have established procedures to follow in such instances. The office of Congressmember Maxine Waters has indicated there will be an inquiry into whether any civil rights violations occurred during Richardson’s arrest, booking and release. This could trigger federal involvement in her case.
Human tragedy is difficult to deal with when the circumstances are known. When there are no answers to any of the questions, it is unbearable.