Drone Used in Search of Mitrice: Results Pending
As reported by one of the commenters in a previous post, the Viz Center drone yesterday searched the area where Mitrice Richardson disappeared more than six months ago. From the Contra Costa Times, a Northern California paper:
A small, unmanned aircraft scoured the depths of the Malibu canyons Thursday, recording hi-resolution photos of areas that police have had trouble reaching by helicopter and foot in the search for a woman who has been missing since September.
The photos were sent back to a San Diego State University lab to be processed. Homicide detectives planned to analyze the photos today or Saturday to determine if the images contained any evidence of the whereabouts of 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson, said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Richardson was last seen in the Malibu area after being released from the Malibu-Lost Hills sheriff’s station. The 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton graduate and psychology intern disappeared after being released from the station after 1 a.m. on Sept. 17. She had been booked for allegedly failing to pay an $89 bill at Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu. Her car was impounded and she was without her purse and cell phone.
The drone, remote-controlled by researcher Michael Hennig from SDSU’s Immersive Visualization Center, was used in the high-profile search of Chelsea King, who was found dead in San Diego last month after being missing since February.
“It can get really low as opposed to a helicopter and can get some really good close-up pictures,” said Gina Jacobs, SDSU spokeswoman.
“And it’s pretty silent so it doesn’t disturb the environment.”
Hennig is also the co-director of RP Search Services, a nonprofit group that provides unmanned vehicles with high resolution imaging systems for search and recovery efforts. He volunteered the drone in Richardson’s search, Whitmore said.
The drone, with a four-foot wingspan, spent at least five hours taking nearly 500 photos of six spots of interest in the Malibu hills and canyons, totaling an area of about eight square miles.
One spot was where Richardson was last seen after a resident on Cold Canyon Road reported a woman resting in the backyard. Another was near a vehicle tunnel that investigators thought she could have gone around to avoid cars.
The drone also scanned the area where Richardson’s scent had been picked up by dogs.
In related news from the Malibu Surfside News, Mitrice’s family has also asked that a local man apprehended recently for a rape in Point Dume State Park be questioned in connection with her disappearance.
[…]Latice Sutton, the mother of 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson who has been missing for over six months, sent an email to Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Captain Joseph Stephen Jr., expressing the view that “Christian Marcus Verdin, who is in your custody, could have information regarding my daughter. I am strongly requesting that Christian Marcus Verdin be investigated in the disappearance of Mitrice.”
Sutton said, “We know he is a recently released (2009) convicted felon, living among the homeless (goon squad) in Malibu.”
She added, “It’s not unreasonable to suspect that this predator has information regarding, and/or knows the whereabouts of my daughter.”
It doesn’t hurt for Latice Sutton to be proactive about anyone found to have been a suspect in sex crimes in the Malibu area, but I still think that Mitrice’s remains are in that wilderness somewhere, whether or not a deputy or a Verdin had anything else to do with it. Stay tuned.