Anniversary of Mitrice Richardson's Disappearance Coincides with New Allegations
• Activists Pledge to Keep Public Spotlight on Investigation •
BY ANNE SOBLE
Advocates for reform in how people with behavioral and mental health issues are treated by law enforcement personnel are redirecting attention to the unsolved death of Mitrice Richardson to keep the issue in the public spotlight.
Despite record high thermometer readings, members of the group "Reach" took part in a "March for the Missing" last Saturday to mark the third anniversary of Richardson's disappearance in the Malibu Canyon area where the then 24-year-old is believed to have been seen alive last.
Spearheading the event was Ronda Hampton. The licensed clinical psychologist—who was Richardson's college mentor and friend—has undertaken an educational campaign to raise awareness about the public policy implications of mistreatment of people with behavioral health issues.
Richardson had been placed under citizen's arrest at Geoffrey's restaurant on the night of Sept. 16, 2009, after failing to pay an $89 dinner bill and was reported to have been behaving strangely. She was transported to the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station that serves the Malibu area.
Hampton said the woman's bizarre actions—possible manifestation of a bipolar condition—should have led to her being 5150'd, or held for involuntary medical evaluation, instead of being booked and then released without access to her impounded vehicle, her cell phone or wallet in a dark industrial area with which she was not familiar just after midnight on Sept. 17, 2009.
Richardson's nude skeletal remains were found in a remote Dark Canyon location in the Calabasas area on Aug. 9, 2010, nearly 11 months after the honors college graduate and beauty pageant competitor was escorted out the side door of the Lost Hills Station that is about seven miles away. The county coroner's department has ruled that the official cause of death is undetermined.
Richardson family members did not take part in last weekend's event. There are reports of internal friction with relatives disavowing non-family members' ongoing efforts to press the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to continue to follow up leads in the baffling case.
A number of new leads have reportedly surfaced in recent weeks. Hampton told the Malibu Surfside News that Reach is monitoring these leads as a citizens activist group and its primary concern is potential public policy ramifications of verifying the cause of Richardson's death.
Anyone with information on the Richardson case is urged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500, or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477). They can also visit http://sheriff.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lasd/contact
MARCHING FOR JUSTICE—Activists with the behavioral health advocacy group "Reach" and volunteers involved in several high profile missing person cases took part in a "March for the Missing" last Saturday to commemorate the third anniversary of the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson in the Malibu Canyon area where she is believed to have been seen alive last. Participants honored Richardson and others who have gone missing and then been found dead, or are still missing and their fate unknown. Reach and other groups continue to put pressure on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to keep investigating the Richardson case. Among the march participants are individuals who claim to have uncovered information that might shed light on whether Richardson was alive longer than was first thought in the vicinity where her remains were found. In addition, new allegations about the perpetrators of a painted pornographic culvert wall mural a few miles from the location are circulating. There are also unconfirmed reports that the LASD might have subjected some parties of interest to polygraph testing.