Nearly six and a half years ago, Mitrice Richardson went missing after leaving the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station near the top of Malibu Canyon. Since the discovery of her remains in the canyon a year later, little has been uncovered about her disappearance or cause of death.
That may be about to change.
As of Jan. 29, the California Attorney General’s office has decided to review the case, according to a letter sent to Richardson’s father, Michael L. Richardson, by Senior Assistant Attorney General Lance E. Winters.
“I am the Senior Assistant Attorney General in charge of criminal matters for Los Angeles County. Our office is taking the matter under review. I will notify you of the results when our review has concluded,” the letter read.
In December 2015, The Malibu Times inquired after the status of Richardson’s case and received a statement from the Sheriff’s Department regarding the investigation, which at that time had remained dormant. Questions and allegations had long swirled around the department’s conduct, including when and how remains were moved and whether or not there is a videotape of Richardson’s time in jail.
“Past leads have been exhausted. The case is open, and any new leads will be pursued when they are received by the Sheriff’s Department,” Cmndr. Rod Kusch said in an emailed statement. “It is a death investigation at this time, as the coroner’s office has not ruled it a homicide.”
What has caused renewed interest in the case is unclear, though many have pointed to the recent “guilty” plea given by former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca as possible justification for the attorney general to review the investigation. On Feb. 10, Baca pleaded guilty to charges that he intentionally blocked an FBI investigation into prisoner abuse at L.A. jails.
On the evening of Sept. 16, 2009, Richardson was arrested at Geoffrey’s in Malibu after she was unable to pay her $89 bill. According to reports by Geoffrey’s management at the time, she was also acting erratically and speaking in a “made up language” about “Mars.”
At 11:03 p.m., Richardson was booked at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. She was released the same night at 12:35 a.m. without her car, purse or telephone.
According to an interview conducted that month by The Malibu Times with Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Cpt. Tom Martin, releasing Richardson alone at that hour was in line with LASD protocol, since they offered to allow her to stay overnight if she wished.
“She said she didn’t want to do that and that she was going to meet friends,” Martin told The Malibu Times. “We were obligated to release her at that point.”
In the early morning of Sept. 17, Mitrice was reportedly seen on the front lawn of a nearby residence. That would be the last time she was seen alive.
Eleven months later, Richardson’s remains were found in Malibu Canyon, yards from her clothing. An autopsy and investigation has not proven how she died or whether there was any foul play involved, though her family insists she would not have willingly gone into the canyon alone.