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Missing woman's family revamps search efforts

March 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Friends and family of missing woman Mitrice Richardson fanned out across SoCal Sunday, revamping search efforts.Richardson's mother along with volunteers spoke with shoppers at a Ralph's grocery store in Agoura Hills for four hours Sunday. The goal is to keep Richardson's case in the forefront of everybody's minds so that her case is not forgotten and that it's eventually solved.

It's been six months, but still there is no sign of the missing 24-year-old, but her family and even those who've never met her are not giving up the search for any information about her whereabouts.

"We want to make sure that we keep her story out there, hoping that someone will pick up a flyer, recognize her and direct to where she's at so we can go and bring my baby home," said Richardson's mother, Latice Sutton.

In addition to the Agoura Hills Ralph's, Sutton and volunteers also handed out missing flyers to shoppers in Hollywood, Skid Row and Santa Monica.

Sharon Desalay was among the volunteers who simply wanted to help.

"Well, I have two daughters and I had read about this story in the papers and have been following it, and I just felt like if it was one of my kids, I would want the support from the communities," said Desalay. "I wanted to come out and do what I could do."

Richardson was last seen on Sept. 17 after the sheriff's department released her from the Malibu-Lost Hills station.

The Cal State Fullerton graduate was arrested after she failed to pay her bill at Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu and was in possession of marijuana.

Diners and restaurant staff say her behavior was bizarre. Her loved ones believe she was having a mental breakdown. Richardson's family said that the sheriff's department should not have released her in the middle of the night. They filed a claim against the county alleging wrongful death.

"In order for us to demand and make sure that change is made, it's going to start with holding this agency accountable," said Sutton.

The sheriff's department said that Richardson's case is still considered a missing person case. Sutton is keeping a very positive attitude, saying that she feels recharged and is running on adrenaline because of Sunday's volunteer efforts.

Later this week, drones will be launched to search areas in the Santa Monica Mountains, which are not easily accessible by foot.

The drones can feed high-resolution digital images and GPS locations back to search teams on the ground.