Former Malibu resident missing for close to two weeks

Jim Earl Mitchell

Search is put on hold due to Montecito fire.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

Jim Earl Mitchell, 63, a former Malibu resident and son of 50-year Malibu resident Richard Mitchell, has been missing for close to two weeks from his home in Montecito. No clues have been found as to his whereabouts. The father said he last heard from his son on Nov. 4, and that his son was last seen the following day, when he went out with four or five friends in Ventura early in the evening.

Mitchell’s cell phone, wallet containing identification, credit cards and $150 in cash, and his car and keys were all left at his home. There has been no activity on his bank accounts since he disappeared.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department is investigating the disappearance. The search, headed by Detective Alex Percorari of Carpinteria, has included the use of canines and a helicopter aerial search over the immediate area of his home. Santa Barbara and Ventura County residents have also been alerted.

“We appealed to the public throughout Santa Barbara County last Saturday and that has turned up nothing,” said Public Information Officer Drew Sugars of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department.

A more intensive search into the rugged mountain area had been planned for last weekend, but due to the Montecito Tea Fire that started late last week, it was postponed.

“Due to the fire, any Search and Rescue operation related to the Mitchell situation is on hold until further notice,” Sugars said, in a follow-up with The Malibu Times on Monday.

Mitchell rents out a portion of his home to a tenant, who called police on Nov. 7 after not seeing Mitchell for two days. The elder Mitchell said he had no idea as to his son’s whereabouts, but said he had been worried about some recent behavior that could indicate Alzheimer’s disease.

According to an official statement from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, “Neighbors report that Mitchell was acting a little out of the ordinary. There were no signs of foul play at the residence; however, the investigation did determine that Mitchell may be despondent and a danger to himself.”

Those with information about the case can call the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Carpinteria Station, at 805.692.5743 or 911.