Why The Continuing Law Enforcement Stall on Mitrice Richardson’s Remains? Now The FBI Refuses Again To Get Involved
I had been watching this case on the sidelines, hoping to put in an article entry when the FBI, called on by Sheriff Lee “by the book” Baca last December to examine the bones of Mitrice Richardson, began the investigation in its labs in Quantico, VA. Unfortunately, last week, the FBI has declined for the second time to get involved in the Mitrice Richardson case, and like the proverbial football, the case has landed squarely back into the laps of Mitrice’s parents, Latice Sutton and Michael Richardson.
Investigators with the coroner’s office found eight more bones of Mitrice Richardson on Sunday, six months after she was found dead in a ravine.
Richardson’s mother Latice Sutton had pushed for authorities to return to the site where the remains were found, saying there’s still a lot of work to be done.
The investigators spent hours combing the area where Richardson’s remains were found.
The 24-year-old had gone missing after she was released from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station in September 2009. She had been arrested for failing to pay her bill at a Malibu restaurant.
Last fall, while at the site mourning Richardson’s death, Sutton found one of her daughter’s finger bones.
In response to Sutton’s concerns about the handling of evidence, Sheriff Lee Baca had told her in December that the FBI had agreed to look into the case.
Eyewitness News has learned that the FBI has declined the request to investigate the handling of the case by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Sutton said she is disappointed and frustrated, but she’s not giving up.
“My request is for them to examine her body forensically for potential evidence and clues that could perhaps lead us to a suspect because I believe that Mitrice was murdered,” she said.
So why isn’t the FBI getting involved? Just what are their reasons why now? I’d sure like to know other than an unwillingness not to get their hands dirty.
You know that when it comes to single dead or disappeared white women or girls, these guys are usually chomping at the bit and wanting to leap into an investigation.
My feeling is at this point that the Sheriff’s Department is guilty of a cover-up, at the very least, through the sluggish inaction and stunning cluelessness and insensitivity of Sheriff Lee Baca, who would rather support and protect and reward his guys (who may be suspects) than the needs of the citizens, namely her parents, to find answers.
It’s not unlikely that there are past members of Los Angeles’ law enforcement community who are currently FBI management and agents in the Los Angeles area, and who may be loathe to make their friends look badly. Hence, another reason for the stonewall on getting involved in a case that might name a killer or killers of this young woman, and would give her parents closure.
Mitrice has been gone for nearly two years. Wearing down her parents and their supporters by putting a lot of lies, inaction or roadblocks in their way until they or the case fades out of view is not a bad strategy against people who don’t have a lot of money to conduct a full-on forensic investigation. However, it’s continuing to enrage and concern a lot of observers–and not just black people–and heightening the suspicions of many others that there is something really wrong with this picture.
“They’re playing games now,” says Richardson. “As a black man, I get no respect either way it goes from the sheriff’s department. My daughter is dead because of them and now even after her death, they are continuing to act as if she did not have a father, as if I haven’t been a part of trying to find her and solve her murder since she first went missing. This is ridiculous and as black men we have to demand better. I was not an absent father when Mitrice was alive and I won’t be after death.”
Richardson believes that the sheriff’s behavior is the result of a belief that black fathers are either in prison, on drugs, banging, or just missing in action.
“They don’t know how to act when there’s a black father who is involved in their child’s life,” reflects Richardson.
Besides not being notified about the search or discovery, Richardson also admits he was not notified about the Federal Bureau of Investigations declining to assist in the investigation of his daughter’s death. [This was a] request that was made almost a year after the family first requested their involvement by Sheriff Lee Baca. On Friday, the federal agency said that its work would be duplicative and that there were chain-of-custody issues because of the handling of Richardson’s clothing after her remains were found.
“I got a call from a friend who told me after she found out from the news media,” said Richardson.
Richardson was not notified of the Sheriff’s Department’s latest search and finding of the eight bone fragments. I am not sure, however, whether Latice (the good parent) was informed ahead of him (the bad parent) or that she herself found out by other means. As much as I would like to give the fish-eye to Michael Richardson about some of his showboating antics, I think that he has a point about the Sheriff’s Department continuing lack of communication skills. It doesn’t matter if he is an ex-con, and has a tendency to have a temper. (Frankly, I would have a temper by now if someone d**ked me around like the Sheriff’s Department has done with Latice Sutton and to Michael Richardson. Richardson deserves a few considerate phone calls from someone who would know how to handle him, and to give him correct and credible information.
Richardson also had Sheriff Baca on the griddle several months back with his “Bone to Pick” campaign, which may have resulted in Baca’s throwing in the bone, so to speak, of FBI involvement. (I know that there is a video of Baca’s appearance on December 5 at a community forum in L.A., but I haven”t been able to find again; when I do, I will post it here. Baca doesn’t look good at all on the video. His silent contempt for the proceedings is evident, and he does little to placate the participants with facts or lessen their suspicions–some of which go farther than I do with this blog.)
This thing about “chain of custody”–isn’t it the job of the FBI to also query those who were involved in the removal of the bones? Can’t they closely interrogate those in question? The county coroner has already castigated the Sheriff’s Department for moving the bones without his express permission. This action is an unambiguous sign to many that deputies or the Department itself wished to deliberately alter or destroy any evidence that could be found at the site where she was found and with the remains that might point to them or even someone that they know.
The longer this goes on, the more suspicious the Department looks. Don’t they realize this? Anyone who has watched cop shows knows that moving remains without clearance looks like a cover-up of vital information. These guys are not idiots. They know what is right procedure. Otherwise, they’re not qualified to be deputies…or sheriffs.
Stay tuned, as usual. But this looks increasingly like a job for a special prosecutor. These people cannot be trusted.