Remains Identified as Mitrice Richardson - NBC Southern California

Remains Identified as Mitrice Richardson

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said a cause of death has not been determined



    The remains found Monday in the Malibu area are those of a woman who went missing last year after leaving the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

    "It is the confirmed remains of Mitrice Richardson," sheriff Lee Baca said at a Thursday morning news conference.

    Baca said an autopsy and other tests were conducted on the skull and bones.

    Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said a cause of death has not been determined. Winter said the identity was confirmed through dental records.

    Investigators Attempt to Determine Cause of Mitrice Richardson' Death

    [LA] Investigators Attempt to Determine Cause of Mitrice Richardson' Death
    Investigators hope the remains of Mitrice Richardson may provide some clues into what has become a new mystery. How did she die?
    (Published Friday, Aug. 13, 2010)

    "We did not find anything obvious at this time, but it's a long process," Winter said.

    On Monday afternoon, a crime scene was cordoned off along Dark Canyon Road off Piuma Road.  The bones were discovered in dense chaparral in a ravine. California State Park Rangers discovered the bones during a marijuana eradication effort around 1:30 p.m.

    On Tuesday evening, the mother of Richardson, Latice Sutton, conducted a news conference outside the Los Angeles County Coroner's office and said she believes a pair of women's Levi jeans were found at the Malibu area crime scene Monday. Sutton maintains she knows exactly what her daughter was wearing the night she disappeared.

    "This book is not closed," Michael Richardson, the woman's father, said. "More chapters need to be written. We are going to hold people accountable. I will continue to fight for her."

    Richardson Case Background

    Richardson vanished after she was released early Sept. 17 at the sheriff's Malibu-Lost Hills substation in Calabasas. She was accused of failing to pay a restaurant bill in Malibu.

    The location at which the remains were found is about 30 miles from the sheriff's station from which Richardson was released.

    The confirmation ends a nearly yearlong search for the 25-year-old woman that spanned from the Malibu mountains to Las Vegas, where authorities recently said people reported spotting Richardson in various casinos.

    Both of Richardson's parents have filed civil negligence lawsuits against authorities. Her father, Michael Richardson, said his daughter has bipolar disorder and was released far from home with no money, no purse, no cell phone and no car. The items were in her vehicle, which was impounded when she was taken into custody.

    The Sheriff's Department has said Richardson appeared rational and deputies believed they had a legal obligation to release her in a timely manner.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, following her release, Richardson was given the opportunity to stay by Sharon Cummings, a custody assistant at the Malibu-Lost Hills station. Richardson considered it but later refused saying she was going to "hook up with friends."

    Cummings said she urged Richardson to stay because it was not only dark but cold.


    "I told her maybe she should wait until morning and have breakfast," Cummings said. "She thought about it and said ‘Maybe I’ll stay.’ "

    The jailer left to get some keys. When Cummings returned, Richardson had changed her mind and said she didn't want stay, according to the jailer.

    Richardson's father, Michael Richardson, was at the Thursday news conference. He said he was not told the remains had been identified as those of his daughter before the news conference.

    Winter said the woman's mother was notified and someone "tried to get in touch with Mr. Richardson," but a family member notified the media before the news conference. Baca said he did not receive the information regarding the identification until just before the news conference.

    "What I am is a grieving father," Richardson said. "The community is outraged. I've had to fight this. I've taken all kinds of bangs and knocks.

    "A lot of people wronged my daughter that night. It was a wrongful release based on her mental state."

    In May, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Richardson's civil rights were violated when she was released without a car, cell phone or purse.

    Los Angeles police Capt. Kevin McClure told reporters in Las Vegas last month that more than 70 waitresses, bartenders, security officers and others in Nevada and California have told investigators they think they've seen Richardson.

    At the time, Richardson's father said he believed his daughter might be involved in prostitution in Las Vegas and might be under the influence of someone preventing her from contacting friends and family.