Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has ordered a homicide investigation into the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson. Richardson has been missing since September 17 and there have been very few leads in her case. The Los Angeles Times reported:
Baca's decision today allows a three-person sheriff's homicide team to join the Los Angeles Police Department's search for the 24-year-old who mysteriously vanished after walking out of the Lost Hills sheriff's station nearly three months ago.
"He has declared it a homicide investigation. That does not mean the sheriff believes Ms. Richardson is dead. But by opening up a homicide investigation, it does allow the Sheriff's Department to put some of our top investigators on the case," said Steve Whitmore, a department spokesman.
Whitmore said a lieutenant and two detectives would join LAPD detectives already investigating Richardson's Sept. 17 disappearance.There have been many criticisms of the police in this case. The Orange County Register wrote:
Richardson was arrested and booked on suspicion of failing to pay for her dinner and on suspicion of being in possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, which was allegedly found in her car. Her white 1990 Honda Civic was impounded.
She was taken to the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff's substation, on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains, near the Ventura County line. She was released hours later, around 1 a.m.
Sheriff's officials have said their procedure is to get people who appear to be mentally incapacitated into a facility for a mental evaluation. But, they said, deputies did not see anything that would prompt such a call.
The custody assistant who processed Richardson at the substation, Sharon Cummings, has said she seemed scared to be in jail, but was coherent and talking. Cummings said she doesn't release women at night if they don't have a ride, but Richardson insisted and said she was going to "hook up with friends."
Richardson's family has questioned the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's handling of her arrest and release and for not holding her for a psychological evaluation. Her father also said he was frustrated with the investigation since.Her family has created a blog, Bring Mitrise Richardson Home, which provides up-to-date news, links to other media covering her disappearance and YouTube videos of vigils. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Richardson’s whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to call (213) 485-2531. MITRICE RICHARDSON ~ Date of Birth ~ April 30, 1985 HEIGHT: 5’ WEIGHT: 135lb EYES: Hazel brown HAIR: Medium brown (natural/curly) TATTOOS: Lower abdomen, and behind neck Last wearing: Brown Bob Marley T-shirt & Blue Jeans. GLAAD will continue to monitor this story and provide updates.