What Happened to Mitrice?

Mitrice Richardson went to Malibu for dinner and never came home

Sept. 16, 2009: Twenty-four-year-old Mitrice Richardson drove herself to a restaurant in Malibu, ordered a Kobe steak, and an Ocean Breeze cocktail. During her arrival, the valet noticed she was acting erratically when she told him to look out for a woman named Vanessa with tattoos all over her arms. Later she joined a group of people she did not know for dinner - she began rambling and saying she was Mars and wanted to avenge the death of Michael Jackson. The group left and Mitrice followed shortly after, but not before being stopped by the restaurant manager for not paying her nearly $90 bill. They called her grandmother who offered to pay, but the restaurant would not accept the credit card number unless it was present. Employees offered to pay her bill to let her go, but the manager was concerned that she was not fit to drive away on her own so they called the police.

After finding a very small amount of mary jane in her car, LA Sherrif’s arrested Mitrice and had her car towed to an impound lot. Her mother, Latice Sutton, was called but it was nearly midnight and she was sixty miles away with a sleeping ten-year-old child. Her mom was taken aback, Mitrice had never been in trouble with the law before and wasn’t known to be a heavy drinker or was diagnosed with any mental health issues. Latice called the sherriff’s department to check and make sure they were holding Mitrice until the morning. The dispatcher assured Latice that she would be safe in the station.

At 5 AM Latice called the Lost Hills Sherrif’s station and found out that they released Mitrice shortly after she arrived because she was sober and had a clean criminal record. Without a phone, in the days before Uber (if that area even has reception), Mitrice walked out into the night at just past 12:30 AM.

Latice wanted a missing person’s report immediately but she got pushback from the police that Mitrice was only gone for a few hours and to wait.

Around this time the local police got a call that a young black woman was sitting in the backyard of a ranch in Cold Canyon, over 5 miles away. The homeowner told the dispatcher that he hollered out the window to her to ask if she was ok, she told him she was “just resting.”

Latice was informed of this possible spotting after she drove down to the police station to file a missing person’s report. Sniffer dogs were sent to the rancher’s house but her scent dropped off. When they checked Mitrice’s car in the impound lot they found her cell phone and wallet, which is weird because they were able to find a small amount of drugs but not larger personal belongings.

Searches in the steep canyons of the Malibu Mountains were done. Her own father and others claimed to see her in Las Vegas.

August 9, 2010: Rangers were visiting Dark Canyon to check on a grow operation that they had previously busted. They saw a skull and other remains. The remains, that were eventually identified as Mitrice, were airlifted out by LAPD despite being against protocol from the coroner. The coroner’s report came back as not a homicide and labeled as undetermined.

Many questions remain including: How did she hike miles in the dark in difficult terrain? Why was she found naked? Why weren’t her clothes sent for testing?


The Darkness in Malibu Canyon

June 20, 2002: Malibu local Daniel May to visit went to a friend in Long Beach. His skull was found near the Backbone Trail in Malibu in 2004.

Sept. 16, 2009: Mitrice Richardson disappears

August 9, 2010: Mitrice Richardson’s remains are found.

November 3, 2016: James Rogers, a wildlife biologist, was hiking the 67-mile Backbone Trail when he stopped for the night sleeping in a hammock in Tapia Park, a popular picnic spot within Malibu Creek State Park. He woke up to a small gunshot wound in his arm that he initially thought was an animal bite.

November 9, 2016: Someone shot at a person sleeping inside a car at the Malibu Creek State Park campground.

January 7, 2017: Two car campers were woken up to a gunshot blast that hit their car.

January 28, 2017: Elaine Park has been missing since she left her boyfriend’s house in Calabasas. On Feb. 2, her charcoal gray 2015 Honda Civic was found on Pacific Coast Highway just south of Corral Canyon Road in Malibu. The doors were unlocked, the keys were in the ignition and her backpack, phone, computer, and cash were inside the car.

May 17, 2018: A man’s body was found near the Hindu Temple.

June 22, 2018: Amgen research scientist Tristan Beaudette, was shot while sleeping in a tent in Malibu Creek State Park alongside his two daughters.

August 10, 2018: 21-year-old hiker Matthew Weaver Jr. is reported missing after going hiking.