It's Criminal! 50 Days Later Mitrice Richardson is Still Missing
Michael Richardson and Tessa Moon Something Just Isn't Right-Family Calls for a Federal Investigation into their Daughter's Disappearance and the Refusal of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to Produce Videotapes
Special to the Sentinel by Jasmyne A. Cannick
It's been nearly two months since Mitrice Richardson disappeared from the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's Department after being released shortly after midnight for being arrested and booked on suspicion of failing to pay for her meal at Geoffrey's Malibu and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. That night her receipt showed that she had one drink and one meal totaling $89.51. Witnesses said Richardson behaved strangely that night, telling people she was from Mars leading her family and friends to believe that she suffered some sort of mental breakdown possibly caused from her bi-polar condition.
By all accounts, Mitrice Richardson was doing the right thing. A Cal State Fullerton graduate who studied psychiatry, Mitrice had planned on taking her education to the lesbian and gay community because she felt that there were not enough qualified and sensitive psychiatrists that catered to people who were gay. She lived with her great-grandmother on East 118th Street in Watts and was getting ready to start work as a teacher.
While there have been reported sightings of Mitrice in South L.A. near Denker and Manchester and in Canoga Park, none of the leads has panned out. She is still missing and 50 days later; there are no answers, only mounting frustration as a father continues to search his only daughter.
Forty-two year-old Michael Richardson has exhausted himself trying to dig for answers and clues to no avail. He is a father who works two full time jobs totaling 80 plus per week, and he says that he has missed countless days from work in search of his daughter.
"You have to do what you have to do," Richardson explained while sitting in the conference room of the Los Angeles Sentinel. "I've been to Skid Row, I've been to Figueroa and I've been on Santa Monica Boulevard. I've also reached out to the ladies of the night and their bosses in search of my daughter."
According to Richardson to date, Mitrice's case has been handed off from the Sheriff's Department to the LAPD. No one from the LAPD has been in touch with him in recent weeks except to say that were going to come by to get his DNA "just in case." They have not.
The Sheriff's Department continues to refuse to answer calls for the videotapes showing Mitrice entering and leaving the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's station.
Malibu Mayor Andy Stern turned over to the sheriff voicemails left by the distraught father that reportedly threaten to tie up his (the mayor's) phone lines and picket his office with Black people because he believes that Malibu has not done enough to prod the sheriff's office, the Malibu Surfside News reported.
"I called the Mayor to ask him for help in finding my daughter and he told me that he didn't have time to speak with me about it; that he was late for a meeting," explained Richardson. "I'm no dummy. I do my research on politicians. I discovered that the Mayor's daytime job was as a real estate agent so I called his business line claiming to be a football player looking to buy one of properties valued at $5.5 million. He not only had time to talk to me but was willing to cancel the very same meeting that he rushed me off the phone for earlier, in order to meet with me (as the potential buyer)."
Richardson said he just wanted to hold a rally in Malibu with the support of several of the local biker clubs--he belonged to one--but was told by the Mayor that if there were more than ten people riding motorcycles, that's considered a parade and that he would need to pay for a permit, as well as pay to reserve parking. The Mayor was unwilling to waive the fees and Richardson said that he couldn't afford the permit fee.
"If all of the policies and procedures that the Mayor cited to me had been followed to the letter of law, as it related to my daughter, she wouldn't be missing," Richardson explained.
After news broke about the Mayor's unwillingness to help the Richardsons and his not wanting a "busload of Black people on the steps of City Hall in Malibu," he quickly expedited an additional $15,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Mitrice Richardson. Coupled with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' $10,000 reward, that brings the total amount of the reward to $25,000.
The rally and biker caravan that was supposed to take place in Malibu was instead held in the last area that Mitrice was reportedly seen, 87th Street and Western Avenue in Los Angeles. Last Sunday, friends and family members canvassed the neighborhood with flyers and passers-by asking for help in finding Mitrice.
"What's happening to me and my family is criminal," Richardson continued. "From the altered police report that was whited-out and which took me 2 1/2 weeks to get--when according to the sheriff's website, reports are available in 24 hours--to the fact that the LAPD detectives assigned to my daughters case have not even contacted me. In addition, the sheriff's department has repeatedly refused to produce any videotape showing my daughter entering and exiting that sheriff's station."
On Monday evening, Richardson and Tessa Moon, Mitrice's girlfriend of 2 years held a press conference at the Jewel's Catch One nightclub asking for help from L.A.' LGBT community.
"Mitrice was openly gay and wanted to be a community activist for the gay community," explained 25-year-old Tessa Moon, also a Cal State Fullerton graduate. "At this point we are leaving no stones unturned in trying to find Mitrice. It's going to take all of us."
Next step the father says is to call for a Federal Investigation for the refusal of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to the produce videotapes. Geoffrey's Malibu told ABC7 Eyewitness News on Monday that they turned their videotapes in to the sheriff's department after repeated attempts by Richardson to view them and get a copy of them.
"My daughter never should have been released in the middle of the night in that area, alone with no money, no car, and no cell phone. That was a criminal and negligent act by the sheriff's."
Sheriff Lee Baca has yet to meet with the Richardsons regarding their daughter's disappearance and the role his department played in it.
The family also expects to meet with Chief Charlie Beck, the Mayor's pick to replace former LAPD Police Chief William J. Bratton. Richardson said that he would be looking to the new police chief for quick action and leadership, in helping to find his daughter.
"While I congratulate the new police chief, in my opinion, this is not the time for celebrating. It's time to get down to business. I am looking forward to meeting with the new police chief about finding my daughter."
The family is also making pleas to the local Black churches to print the flyer with Mitrice's information in their Sunday church bulletins, to help spread the word in hopes of finding their daughter.
"We've gotten more support and help from the community regarding my daughter's disappearance than from law enforcement. If we can just get all of us to be on the look out for Mitrice, I know we can find her."