Skip to main content

Remains found in Malibu Canyon identified as Mitrice Richardson

By Alan Duke, CNN
Click to play
Mitrice Richardson's mother demands justice
  • NEW: Her dad holds sheriff's deputies responsible for his daughter's death
  • The skeletal remains were found Monday in Malibu Canyon
  • Sheriff: There are no signs of homicide in her death
  • Richardson, 24, was last seen leaving a Malibu sheriff's station September 17

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Skeletal remains found in a remote area of Malibu Canyon on Monday are those of Mitrice Richardson, a California woman who disappeared last year, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Thursday.

Richardson, 24, was last seen leaving a sheriff's station in Malibu after being detained by sheriff's deputies on a citizen's arrest complaint made by a restaurant manager in September.

"We have no indication of a homicide at this point," Baca said. "I don't believe that the remains are capable of telling us a story."

The remains, which included a human skull, were found Monday by park rangers searching the area for marijuana groves, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

"It's incredibly treacherous terrain," Whitmore said of the remote site. "There is no road, no trail even if you know exactly where you are going."

Whitmore describes the terrain while families wait for word

The woman's father reacted angrily after watching the sheriff's news conference from the rear of the room.

"Now you guys are going to see the real Michael Richardson come out," Michael Richardson said.

Richardson said he was holding sheriff's deputies responsible for his daughter's death, either because of negligence or criminal intent.

"Why can't I speculate? Maybe the sheriff had something to do with it," Richardson told reporters.

Mitrice Richardson was taken to the sheriff's station after she was unable to pay her $89.51 food and drink tab at a Malibu restaurant on the evening of September 16, 2009. A restaurant employee told the 911 dispatcher that she was "sounding crazy."

After deputies determined she had no money to pay, the manager lodged a citizen's arrest complaint against Richardson. Her car was towed, and she was taken to the sheriff's station.

Richardson was given a court date and released just after midnight, but her car was still impounded with her cell phone inside it, according to an investigation conducted by an independent commission.

"Based on my daughter's mental condition that night, she wasn't able to fend for herself," Richardson said. "Mel Gibson gets driven to his car, and Charlie Sheen gets taken to his house."

Her family has said the college honors graduate and former beauty queen suffered from mental health issues.

"The deputies acted properly, but properly doesn't necessarily mean that we couldn't do something more," Baca said Thursday.

One change may be in how deputies handle citizen's arrest complaints from businesses, he said.

"Is an $89 bill enough to take someone into the jail? There is more than one way to handle a problem," Baca said.

Her father wants more than a policy review by the county. Richardson called for a state law named after his daughter to prevent it happening again to someone else.

"I guarantee you the Mitrice Richardson law will say no one -- man, woman or child -- will be released in Malibu for some predator that wears a five-star badge to attack or do whatever they want." he said. Richardson said he was suggesting it might have been the work of "someone in law enforcement."

"It's clearly a set up by someone," he said.

The independent review released Thursday said Richardson's mother, Latice Sutton, "was vacillating on whether to let Ms. Richardson spend the night in jail so that she could learn a lesson; however, she made it clear if Malibu/Lost Hills personnel were going to release Ms. Richardson that night, Ms. Sutton would travel there to pick her up."

Mitrice's mom angered by leaks

Her mother did not learn she was released until 5:30 a.m. the next day, it said. She then filed a missing persons report, which began the search for Richardson that did not end until this week.

CNN's Gabriel Falcon contributed to this story