Mitrice Richardson's Body Identified
BY Michelle Garcia
August 12 2010 11:55 AM ET
The skeletal remains found Monday in Malibu Canyon in Los Angeles were identified as those of Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old lesbian who has been missing for nearly a year.
Richardson's mother, Latice Sutton, was notified by the Los Angeles coroner's office Thursday morning, CNN reports. The remains and a set of women's clothing were found by park rangers after months of searching for Richardson turned up no results.
Richardson went missing September 17 and was last reportedly sighted approximately 2-1/2 miles from where her body was found. The site is located about eight miles southeast from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's station in Calabasas, Calif., where Richardson was released from police custody on the night she disappeared. She was arrested hours earlier for failing to pay an $89 restaurant bill and possessing a small amount of marijuana. When she was released, her car, which contained her cell phone and purse, was impounded.
The news comes a week after several people, including an old high school friend, reported sightings of Richardson in Las Vegas. However, those sightings were never confirmed by investigators.
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.
Baca said the call to take Richardson into custody went out to the sheriff's station after the owner of the restaurant made a citizen's arrest. Despite allegations that the sheriff's deputies who arrested and processed Richardson were in the wrong, Baca would not back down, and he defended his department.
"The deputies acted properly, but that doesn't mean we didn't do something or couldn't do more," he said, adding, "The deputies involved feel as terrible as I do."
A spokesman from the coroner's office said homicide investigators are looking into the cause of death. When questions of why the news media knew that the coroner had identified Richardson's body before her father was made aware, the spokesman said the information was leaked by someone involved with the family. He apologized and said it was against the office's policy to release that information without first notifying key family members.
Sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore also said the remains were fond eight miles away from the Malibu/Lost Hills station and not 20 miles, which was earlier reported.