A nearly yearlong criminal investigation conducted by the California Attorney General’s Office failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies for their handling of the 2009 disappearance and death of Mitrice Richardson, according to an official letter sent to Richardson’s family.
Richardson, 24, went missing in 2009 after being released from the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station in the middle of the night without her car, which had been impounded and contained both her purse and her cellphone. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Richardson’s decomposed body was found in a Malibu Canyon ravine several miles from the sheriff’s station nearly one year later.
The cause of Richardson’s death remains undetermined to this day, according to the coroner’s office.
According to the Times, Richardson’s family believes she was the victim of foul play, and they blame sheriff’s deputies for their treatment of her. Richardson was arrested for failing to pay an $89 bill at Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu, then released at 12:40 a.m. even though she showed signs of mental illness.
From the Times:
Her family has also blasted deputies for mishandling her remains. Coroner’s officials said deputies moved her body parts without permission, and months later, Richardson’s mother was visiting the site and found a finger bone that belonged to her daughter.
The office of then-Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris balked at reviewing the case in 2015, saying there was “no reasonable inference” that deputies broke the law. But months later, in February 2016, the case appeared to gain new momentum after Harris agreed to review the matter at the request of Richardson’s father, Michael Richardson.
That yearlong inquiry appears to have revealed no evidence of wrongdoing. A Dec. 31 letter from the attorney general’s office to Richardson’s father, which was released to The Times, briefly outlines why “there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution for destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.”
According to the letter Richardson’s father received, the statute of limitations for concealment or tampering of evidence passed more than two years ago, which is an odd thing to mention in a letter stating that no one did anything wrong.
Richardson’s parents reached a legal settlement with the county and received $450,000 each.
According to the Times, Richardson’s father maintains that his daughter was killed, and Thursday he asked deputies who may know more about her death to come forward.
“These officers took an oath to protect and defend people,” Michael Richardson said. “You didn’t take an oath to keep secrets.”
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.