Missing woman case turns into homicide case

LOS ANGELES Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton psychology graduate, vanished in Malibu Hills Sept. 17 after she was released from the Sheriff's Malibu/Lost Hills substation. Richardson had been arrested for erratic behavior, marijuana possession and not paying her bill at a Malibu restaurant.

When Richardson was let go, she was 40 miles from home and had no car, cell phone or money. Relatives say Richardson was clearly mentally unstable and should not have been released on her own in her condition.

Sheriff Lee Baca met with Richardson's father, Michael Richardson, on Friday and decided to open a homicide investigation. According to sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, the homicide investigation does not mean investigators believe Richardson was the victim of a homicide; he says it is a way to bring top resources into the investigation of her disappearance.

Richardson's father has been actively and tirelessly leading a campaign to raise awareness about his daughter's disappearance, and he continues the efforts to find her. He says he plans to sell his 1966 Chevy Impala and a "tricked-out" Cadillac Escalade to raise money for the search for his daughter.

He has also said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the police for releasing her daughter without a prior mental evaluation.

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