It was a very rough night’s sleep for this father of a 24 year old Black woman. It was a hard night for me but for Michael Richardson the father of 24 year old Mitrice it must have been the punctuation of a nightmare.
Yesterday he found out from a press conference that the remains of his daughter had been found in a canyon in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu north of Los Angeles.
I was hoping to find a trace of Mitrice here, finding none I think I will leave one.
The Los Angeles Sheriffs Department informed Michael that his baby was found with a press conference. They didn’t send an official with a counselor to help manage the grief caused at least indirectly by their actions Lee Baca the Sheriff let the media handle that job.
Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca expressed his condolences to Richardson's family, followed by a barrage of questions from reporters causing him to storm away from a press conference confirming the details of her death.
"Life is fragile, and the circumstances of this case are tragic," Baca said at the beginning of the press conference.
Link to Lee Baca excusing the Sherrif's Department
My Sweetie watched that press conference. As the mother of a 24 year old Black woman she has her momma grizzly happening. She noticed how the Sheriff made it a point to express how much money the Sheriff’s department had expended looking for Mitrice. He made it a point to absolve his department of any blame, but I don’t have to. I’m going to join Michael and play the blame card.
But Michael Richardson, who has tirelessly searched for his daughter since she went missing after leaving the Lost Hills/Malibu Police Station in the early morning hours of September 17, said he will be holding the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office responsible for Mitrice Richardson's death, whether it be for negligence or criminal intent.
"Why can't I speculate?" Richardson angrily asked reporters. "Maybe the sheriff had something to do with it."
Link to Associated content account of Michael Richardson
Mitrice was an honor student of the 4.0 variety. She was a graduate of Cal State Fullerton and a super achiever. The demons that drive these types of people are fierce I think we all have those types of people in our lives. The ones I know appear to walk a delicate psychological balance and it is obvious to me that on the night of September 17th 2009 in Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu Mitrice lost hers.
Deputies took Richardson into custody on the night of Sept. 16, 2009, at Geoffrey's Malibu for failing to pay the $89 bill for her meal. They booked her at the Malibu/Lost Hills station in Agoura and, after she refused two invitations to stay in a private cell until morning, watched her walk into the chilly night with no access to her car, no ride home and no buses running for six hours.
Link to LA Times account
Last night Sweetie was watching Nancy Grace who devoted half of her show to Mitrice’s story. One of the features of her reporting is that she was able to broadcast the conversation of Mitrice’s mother who she identified on her screen as "caller" not Mitrice’s mother and that’s interesting, but what was more interesting was the conversation. It appeared Mitrice’s mother Latice Sutton called at the station at least 3 times. Do you have my baby? I will come and get my baby, hold and do not release my baby, the typical things any mother would say. I also noticed a few code phrases that Black people say to authority. She’s a good girl don’t treat her like a gangster in "she’s very well spoken you’ll see when she gets in there" I noticed how Ms. Sutton gave her Black child’s resume in hopes that the police would treat her properly. She said words to the effect that she knew her child would be safe if in police custody.
However, as the story unfolded they didn’t hold her. They released her into the dead of night with a possible psychotic episode. The person who called the Sheriff’s office on Mitrice regarding the bill mentioned she was crazy or on drugs and she’s not a professional yet she was able to assess Mitrice as being in some kind of trouble.
Any other time, I guess it'd be cause for a celebration if we managed to eat and drink for free, get arrested, and released in the same night. But not this time.
Young, Black, female, and petite, Mitrice was released by the sheriff's into the dead of the night with no money or identification. Worse yet, her mother, Latice Sutton, said a manager at the restaurant where Richardson dined, told her that Richardson was in no condition to drive. Neighbors reported seeing a woman of Mitice's description asleep on a porch but when deputies arrived, she was nowhere to be found.
The disappearance of Mitrice Richardson could have been prevented. If she was in fact intoxicated, jail overcrowded or not, the sheriff's could have had her placed in a drunk tank elsewhere. If they noticed that her behavior wasn't normal, they could have had her taken in for a psych evaluation. If they'd have chosen any number of options given to them instead of just letting her go, Mitrice wouldn't be missing today.
Did race play a role in the sheriff's decision to just let her go? It has to be asked, because I find it hard to believe that the sheriff's would let a young, white, girl, drunk or sober, go off into the middle of night. Who knows who her parents might be?
Link to the LA Sentinel a Black voice in Los Angeles
No, I didn’t sleep well last night. I have a 24 year old daughter with the same description minus the 4.0 but she made it through and I love and am proud of her. I could imagine making the same pleas to authority that Latice did upon finding out her baby was in police custody, but unfortunately I can too easily imagine the same result. Goodbye Mitrice I’m sorry baby.
Update 8:30 and hat tip to commenter dougdilg who I am shamelessly taking the entire comment of. He didn't sleep well either last night and here is why.
but because of the part of the story you left out. You see, I live in the area where she was found, and it wasn't just a case of she was released and never heard from since. That night was walked approximately 6 miles and ended up in the backyard of a house in the small community of Monte Nido. A neighbor woke up around 6:30, and saw her half-asleep on some steps in the yard. He called out to her, asking if she was alright, she responded that she was just resting. After thinking about it a moment he called the police - told them he didn't think it was any big deal but suggested they come and check it out. They did...but not for 3 hours.
That was the last confirmed sighting although there were two others, one along Malibu Canyon Road and then one on Piuma Road east of Malibu Canyon Road - Malibu Canyon Road being the just outside our community, Piuma back inside. That means she spent some time wondering around, seemingly disoriented, since if her goal was to get back to Malibu the canyon road is the way she should have gone. But more importantly it means there was a time when if the police had responded promptly they could of picked her up, brought back to the station for evaluation or until her mother, who by this time was calling the station frequently and in a panic, could have picked her up. There are all sorts of racial implications to the story, there is the issue of how and when the police release people in their custody, but this part of the story goes to police priorities, that when a neighbor calls and asks for an officer to check something out, it receives such a low priority.
But the story doesn't stop there. Back in June, during one of the many volunteer searches the family organized, a very disturbing mural was found painted in a storm drain culvert quite close to where the body was eventually found. This is highly unusual and not just for its content. This is not an area where graffiti is common. We don't have taggers, we don't have gangs, and the hikers who come through the area aren't into tagging rocks or stone walls. This is extremely odd for our area.
And the content is extremely disturbing. I believe this discovery is a large part of why Mitrices's mother, during those last weeks, was so skeptical about the Vegas sightings and kept on insisting the search continue in Malibu Canyon. The real possibility that Mitrice was murdered in my neighborhood is very disturbing, and at this point can we really rely on the Police to follow up this lead with any more attention than they gave to our neighbor's call on the morning after her release?
11:50 update and a hat tip to commenter who had the link to these videos.