Film About Mitrice Richardson Reignites Questions About Her Disappearance, and About the LASD’s Controversial Handling of Her Case……New Allegations of Sexual Misconduct by LA Sheriff’s Deputy Investigated


It has been more than five years since park rangers found the remains of 24-year old Mitrice Richardson in a rugged area of the Malibu hills, but her friends and family cannot bring themselves to let the matter fade away unresolved.

Even journalists who have reported on Richardson’s case tend to be haunted by her story. For instance, Mike Kessler, who wrote what, to date is the most definitive account of her disappearance with his nearly 10,000 word award-garnering longread for LA Magazine, feels there should be more effort made to find out what really happened to the beautiful, bright, well-liked girl who was arrested after what appeared to be a mental health crisis, then released, far from home, into the night.

Now there is a documentary on Richardson called “Lost Compassion,” which will screen on Dec. 3, on the opening night of the 16th International Malibu Film Festival. (The film, directed by Chip Croft, will show for free at 7 p.m. Thursday night at the Regal Cinemas Malibu Twin, 3822 Cross Creek Road, Malibu.)

To remind you, on August 9, 2010, Richardson’s naked corpse and pieces of her clothing (her bra and jeans and other clothing items scattered 100 or more yards away) were discovered by park rangers purely by accident, in an out-of-the-way area of the Santa Monica Mountains known as Dark Canyon. The rangers were checking out a marijuana farm they believed was a grow run by some Mexican drug cartel or other when they spotted Richardson’s skull.

The discovery occurred a year after Mitrice disappeared following her extremely controversial release, in the middle of the night, from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Malibu/Lost Hill’s station without her cell phone, her purse, or her car, 40 miles from home, and against the clearly stated wishes of her worried mother, who told deputies she would come to pick up her daughter in the morning.

Richardson had no other practical form of transportation and had no way of calling friends to pick her up. After she walked away from the station and into the darkness, except for a possible sighting outside a former news reporter’s home, she seemed to vanish.

Ronda Hampton, a clinical psychologist and family friend, is one of those who has been pushing for Richardson’s death to be investigated as a homicide, noting that to believe that a disoriented Mitrice, a city girl, would bushwhack deep into the hills alone, far from any official trail, then take off all her clothes and her shoes and scatter them in a multi-hundred-yard radius, is unlikely in the extreme. Plus there was the matter that her body was not as decomposed as some experts said it should have been, given the time that had passed since she left the sheriff’s station.

With the screening of the new film, Susan Abram writes for the Daily News about the many troubling questions that still surround the disappearance and death of Mitrice Richardson, and the reportedly bizarrely shoddy investigation that followed the discovery of her body.

Here’s a clip:

On Sept. 16, 2009, Mitrice Richardson dined at Geoffrey’s restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway, then was briefly detained by deputies for not paying her bill. A few hours later, before her mother, Latice Sutton, could come and pick her up, Richardson was released just after midnight by deputies from the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station. Her car, which included her purse and cellphone, had been impounded. She had no transportation as she headed out into the darkness of Agoura Road.

Except for a brief appearance on the front lawn of a nearby residence, Richardson was never seen or heard from again. Search parties formed. Family and friends became worried. Questions arose: Why didn’t deputies hold Richardson longer for a mental health evaluation, especially after they were told at the restaurant that she had made several irrational remarks, and she was found to be sober? How could they let a young woman walk alone into the night?

During one of the searches, volunteers found a freshly painted mural along a culvert wall in Malibu Canyon. It depicted a nude African-American woman in various graphic scenes. Was it a clue? Did the painter know what happened to Mitrice? Hampton said investigators told her it was unrelated. Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Department met with criticism and anger.

Eleven months after she disappeared, Richardson’s remains were discovered about seven miles from the station. Park rangers who were patrolling the area to check for illegal marijuana farms found her near a creek bed where few traveled. Deputies arrived and removed the bones, to the dismay of Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials, who were on their way to the scene.

Again, questions arose: Did someone pick her up as she walked the dark roads, kill her and dump her body in the canyon? Were deputies indirectly involved since they released her? Why did they remove her remains before coroner’s officials arrived?

“The Sheriff’s Department moved her remains without our permission,” Ed Winter, Los Angeles County assistant chief coroner, said last week. “I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened to her unless someone comes forward with additional information.”

Former Sheriff Lee Baca told reporters he believed his officers followed procedures and that deputies had asked her to stay in jail until her mother arrived, but Richardson refused. The Office of Independent Review, which oversees the Sheriff’s Department, agreed with him. In the meantime, Richardson’s parents, who are not married to each other, filed separate wrongful death suits and in 2011 were awarded $450,000 each by Los Angeles County.

But Hampton pressed on. She and the family pushed for the department to conduct an internal investigation of the deputies. A request was made for the FBI to look into the department. A spokeswoman said last week that the case did not fall in federal jurisdiction. In October, Hampton sent nearly 500 pages of documents and reports about the case to Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office hoping she would find cause for criminal action against the department.

Harris spokeswoman Kristen Ford said this month the documents were received and reviewed but no action will be taken.


Allegations surfaced over the weekend that a Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy as­signed to LA’s downtown crim­in­al courthouse engaged in sexual misconduct with a number female prisoners, including forcing one inmate to orally copulate with him. Although the District Attorney’s office has, thus far, reportedly declined to prosecute the deputy, due to the unwillingness of several of the women involved to cooperate, the LASD has launched an internal affairs probe into the deputy’s alleged wrongdoing.

The LA Times’ James Quelly broke the story. Here’s a clip:

The allegations were disturbing: A female inmate reported that a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy asked her to perform a sex act as he escorted her back to a cell in the downtown criminal courthouse. She complied, she said, because she was afraid the deputy might otherwise get her into trouble.

In the following months, investigators tracked down several other female inmates who gave similar accounts of sexual misconduct by the deputy, according to a district attorney’s memo detailing the allegations.

The deputy, identified in the memo as Hermann Kreimann Jr., is the subject of an internal affairs investigation that could result in his firing, according to sheriff’s Cmdr. Keith Swensson, a department spokesman. Although he declined to comment on the specific allegations, Swensson said male deputies are never supposed to be alone with female inmates in areas without security cameras.

“It’s out of policy for a reason, specifically to prevent things like this from happening,” Swensson said. “We would not allow female inmates to go with male deputies by themselves. … You just don’t do that.”

The sexual misconduct allegations are the latest to hit the Sheriff’s Department. Earlier this month, the county agreed to a $6.15 million legal settlement with a woman who was raped by an on-duty deputy during a 2010 traffic stop in Palmdale. The deputy is serving a nine-year prison sentence for rape while under the color of authority and soliciting a bribe.


  • And I thought we were done with Steve Whitmore. Way to go Leroy Baca!! You have provided ailments and wounds to this organization that will take decades to fix.

  • LASD is reaping what they have sown. Totally inept and embarrassing. Shown in the clip is Baca’s loss of words, Whitmore saying too many (of the wrong ) words and Captain Stephens wanting no part of any of it. Lying to the mother by deputies about the recovery of her daughters body is heart wrenching. It totally goes against crime scene 101 to move a dead body or remains until cleared by the coroner. Sheriff McDonnell has his hands full. The day of reckoning is here. Give LASD 25 Years before before compliance and a reasonable amount of respect is restored to what was known as a premier department

  • According to this article, females are not allowed to be alone with male deputies without security cameras. If this is a fact in the jails then why would it not be a fact in a patrol car? To that end, why was Mitrice Richardson allowed to ride alone in the car with the transporting male deputy if there were no security cameras in the patrol car?

  • Jack,
    You’re right on the money!!!! But nobody had the balls to ask the New Age enlightened one back in the day: “What the hell are you doing making this guy the spokesman for the LASD? He’s never spent a day in LE. What are his qualifications? What’s your connection to him”?

    Simple. FOS. Everybody knew it. Nobody said shit. That was red flag evidence that Baca wasn’t kosher. Yet he just kept getting a pass for his bullshit, not only from kiss ass yes men execs. but from the media too. Enter Bishop Turner and Mike Yamaki, among others.

    Yes Jack, it will take decades to repair the LASD’s image and reputation. Here’s the scary part. Had it not been for the media (and dept. members) wanting to bring down PT, we both know Baca would be still be sheriff and still be getting a pass.
    Why? Because he was “warm and caring” in the media’s eyes and gave them the progressive bullshit lip service they wanted to hear.
    No? Ask yourself why it took the LA media 14 years to even hint that Baca was scandalous and a train wreck, when it was apparent to anybody who cared to look at it objectively. If they couldn’t see it after year two, they are either idiots or the “watchdogs” were complicit because they “liked the guy”.
    For all the people who think Baca was “ok” and PT was the undoing of LASD’s reputation, for christ sakes people, WHO kept promoting PT? WHO left PT to run the store so he could go gallivanting around the world spreading his message?
    Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees, or connect the dots.

    Under Baca’s stewardship, the LASD went from being the premier LE agency in the country to a laughing stock. That’s the sad truth, and anybody who denies it is in denial due to their ego not being able to accept it simply because they don’t like it.
    Our reputation and image is what it is, and it damn sure ain’t good.

  • Attorney General Kamala Harrison would never go against the biggest Sheriff’s Association in California representing the guilty party. Yeah you guessed it. Alads,leading the pack with PAC FUNDS,followed by the majority of other L.E.Associations to place her in office . Investigating LASD by Harris would be committing political suicide.

  • Baca was in charge, however the minions who were supposed to back him basically jacked him. Shame on Baca for not checking in on those under him and shame on those working for Baca for taking advantage of a often absent boss. The public and the majority of outstanding deputies are the ones who truly suffer.

  • @4 Oh Well, hit it on the head. The demise of LASD lies at the feet with Leroy BACA and a string of yes-men who were his executives long before Paul Tanaka rose in the Department. Stonich, Waldie et al. And yes, the media looked the other way as scandal after scandal came and went – none of them involving Tanaka and his “working the gray” crap. The yes-men loved being on the promotion ladder and the media loved the progressive Sheriff who “said” all the things they loved to hear. Never mind the progressive Sheriff said a lot of things that never happened, said a lot of things that were complete failures, and certainly said a lot of things that just did not make a bit of sense.

    As Tanaka rose in the Department – don’t forget he was only a Lieutenant when Baca elected but was an “insider” by virtue of the fact that he was the finance director of Baca’s first campaign – he started building his own band of loyalists, independent of the Stonich/Waldie crowd. Conflict festered between the Stonich/Waldie crowd and Tanaka’s loyalists. However, this took a number of years as Tanaka progressed through the ranks. Eventually he gained sufficient rank, and with it power, that executive friction grew to the extent that one Assistant Sheriff (a Stonich/Waldie insider)left the Department to go to another county agency. The atmosphere among the executives was so toxic that many executives chose to retire rather than continue working as they were “forced” to be on one side or the other – there was no “working the gray.” I know many who went personally to Baca and told him of the damage Tanaka was doing to the Department. Everyone of them got the same impression; that Tanaka was off-limits. Eventually, Tanaka virtually took control of the Department as the Stonich/Waldie bunch and those who did not want to work under those conditions left.

    So, blame Tanaka all you want, but it was BACA who was in charge. It is not like he was not aware that Tanaka was running wild. He was told, over and over. Tanaka is going to take you down – not that Baca and the Stonich/Waldie bunch weren’t doing a good enough job of it already! You just need to draw your own conclusions as to why he allowed it to continue. Was it his incompetence, him being uncaring, him being delusional, him being in denial, or a combination all of the above. Personally, I hope the Feds are (mind-numbingly slowly) building one hell of a case against him, because Tanaka’s upcoming conviction can only be a small, stepping-stone victory in placing blame on where it really belongs. And it belongs in the lap of one Leroy D. Baca. If it had not been for Baca his “leadership” do you think virtually any of these LASD personnel would be in Federal Prison? Several probably would not have even hired. I hope they throw the book at him!

  • @ Long gone…….Quite true Re: Baca sentiments and the Niagara Falls of failure. Unfortunately the deal has been brokered with the FBI. He is already in a virtual prison. Much to to the dismay of many, Baca may very well talk at the upcoming Tanaka trial but he will not be convicted. Baca made and had many connections,including the Feds in Washington D.C.
    This is called politics at its best (or worst). Nixon stepped down and many others in Watergate went to prison. Nixon also lived in a virtual prison due to his exiting 1600 Pennsylvania N.W. Washington D.C. Unfortunately the big fish always get away.

  • @Scope……I keep hearing the drums beating that there is still active snooping going by the Feds in to Mr. Baca. For sure there was some sort of deal struck, but to what extent you and I don’t know – if you do, please enlighten the masses.

    IF they are indeed still looking at Loony Leroy, it can only mean that there are Baca activities outside of the “agreement” that are worth pursuing – heaven knows The Loony One was involved in a lot of shady activities beyond Pandora’s Box – if that was the basis of the “agreement.” AND don’t forget Tanaka was the Baca’s accountant, both personally and for all of his political activities. TP knows where a LOT of Leroy’s financial skeletons are hidden and don’t you think that little snake in the grass has them well sequestered for a rainy day? I’m of the mind that Tall Paul would not be one to take a bullet for his old boss, are you?

    I have faith that it ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings and as long as the Feds are SLOWLY grinding away, she hasn’t even started warming up her pipes.

  • @Long Gone…… Excellent analysis of the inner workings of the 4th floor. All of this was a slow motion train wreck, no one could control Baca so Stonich tried to work around it and finally gave up. I have no clue what Stonich said to Baca in their private conversations. It could be that Bill saw the handwriting on the wall and became tired of beating his head against the wall. I’ve been told that Baca became more and more arrogant, more and more disconnected from the operational workings of LASD yet more and more engrossed with the politics of being “The Sheriff,” along with the trappings of the office. Personally from my position, I saw Baca close up and from a distance. I am absolutely convinced he is suffering from a true mental illness, not a 5150 type, but a true affliction that is rooted in a delusional world with bouts of clarity. He sees himself as a visionary and because he says so, it is all true, regardless of the absurdity of it all. And Baca had an army of self serving boot lickers clapping, patting him on the back, telling him of his brilliance, it fed his mental illness with steroids. And then there was Tanaka, capitalizing on every bit of it in his screwed and cunning way. He quietly built his army, placed them in supervisory and management positions, elevating them one by one. Tanaka built his pyramid from the middle, up. Waiting for the upper echelon to retire and replacing them with his people. Stonich was gone, Waldie’s ego was fed daily with his boot lickers and sexual toys who he used, used, used and then promoted. I bet Waldie had to pinch himself 10 times a day, laughing at everyone, he truly cared less. All the while Tanaka played chess, one piece at a time until Waldie retired. And on that day, Tanaka became king. And before I could finish a cup of coffee, Tanaka burned his own village, right down to the grown. It was inevitable, it really was. Tanaka was drunk with power like never before and, unchained. As with all tyrants, Tanaka shoved himself off the cliff and will have a mighty big fall. His trial starts soon and he is scared to death, he should be. As for Baca, I think he is toast. There is NO political connection that is going to save him. IF the Feds have enough to file and convict Baca, they will. Right after Tanaka’s conviction. Tom Carey will play a pivotal role.

  • @11 Argus…..agree with all you wrote – excellent analysis of Baca believing himself such a visionary that his visions were….well brilliant. Reinforcing that belief was that the boot-lickers were reinforcing that belief – “great idea, boss.”.

    I disagree however with your depiction of Stonich’s role in this. Stonich was the head boot-licker and his mantra was “Whatever the Sheriff wants.” No mater how idiotic it was, it was Gentleman Bill who the cheerleader and, I might add, the bag man. You might recall it was Bill who put the arm on the execs for their “voluntary” contribution to the Rose Parade float (a great Leroy “vision”) or the next reelection campaign or whatever other harebrained notion Leroy would come up with. Surprisingly it was Waldie who would actually argue with Baca about the stupidity of some of his ideas – always to no avail – while Bill would stay mum and wait for the inevitable beat-down (actually wear-down)of Larry. Then when the Leroy left, Bill would announce “Whatever the Sheriff wants.” And he meant WHATEVER!

    I am NO fan of Waldie what with his lack of ethics and moral compass, but in the early days he would at least stand up to The Loony One’s craziness, while Stonich was the yes-man who still wanted to be Undersheriff.

    Stonich, Waldie and their followers all flushed the Department down the toilet when they helped Baca get elected in ’98. They knew the guy would be a train-wreck as Sheriff, but they figured they could ride the train for a while, get their promotions – and perhaps some under-the-table perks – and retire before the train went off the tracks. It worked out for them – hell, Waldie makes over $300K in retirement!. Tanaka, who was a small-fry at the time, thought the same thing. The only problem is that he threw the wrong switch and ran the train over the cliff.

  • @ Long gone: You pinned the tail on the donkey!, with the true to life- soon to be revealed – financial skeletons in Baca’s closet that are yet to be revealed. I won’t speculate on the amount but I understand that it is not “chump change”.

    To my limited understanding I am told by a few solid sources that most of the moolah is from Assets & Seizure Forfeiture which was never doled out. Supposedly and obviously it is in the major millions. The trial should be interesting.

  • @Long gone, Sir, regarding your report on Stonich and Waldie; I will defer to your inside knowledge. I knew Stonich was a huge enabler of Baca and very much aware of the shakedown for donations. What was it Bill said, along the lines of, “You all have County cars, County gas, I would think a donation in the amount of a car payment is fair.”

    They never saw a dime of my money. If the Feds have anything more than the Custody force capers and Pandora’s Box, you would never know it. Statute of Limitations must mean nothing to them.

  • @Argus…the “Pay to Play” mentality started in the LASD with the swearing in of Baca. Not only was it the shake-downs for “contributions” – yeah, he said that about the cars and gas – but especially the “Whose side is he/she on?” You will recall that Baca and his gang swept in with a wave of promotions. Stonich and Waldie – both dead-end Commanders – were promoted to Assistant Sheriff. Myron – who recruited his entire Division’s executive staff to support Baca – jumped from Chief to U/S. You had two inside Lts. go to Commander in a blink of an eye – civil service regs prohibited a straight jump. Then you saw promotions of virtually all the former Myron division executives all get promoted. Many of those folks with little time in grade of were far from the best candidate for promotion. From that point on, it was all about who was “in the car” or “who was in the golf cart.”

    Stonich put on his annual golf event in Temecula and want-to-bees lined-up to get an invite. Not to be there to get face time with the insiders was a career disaster.

    Fortunately, there were a few existing execs who did not play their games and actually got promoted. I know of a very deserving Captain at the time of the election eventually got promoted to Commander and Waldie – who I have to admit was always good for a laugh – laughingly told him “We ran out of people.” Meaning they ran out people to promote who were in the car and were less deserving and now they HAD to promote someone who was actually highly qualified.

    So, monetary shakedowns were only part of what was going on.

    As far as statue of limitations, I suppose if they are still poking around they are not worried about that. Federal statutes are probably different than local anyway, but I seem to remember that there is no statute on embezzlement of government funds – I admit my Academy days were a few years ago. Perhaps the same holds true on campaign fund irregularities or taking kick-backs from County contractors or God knows what else Leroy might have had his fingers in. Hopefully, they are looking far enough back to find Stonich and Waldie’s finger prints in there as well!

    Let’s just hope wherever they are looking, they are looking in the right places.

  • Speaking of embezzlement of county funds, whatever happened with Dave Watters using county workers and material to modify his Kawasaki cruiser and Honda dual sport?

  • Re: Dave Waters – he is spending his days in courtroom 1600, of the United States Courthouse, before Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald (Case Number: 2:14-cv-05600). He is a plaintiff in the Charles Antuna et al v. County of Los Angeles et al Lawsuit, along with Kevin Herbert, Louis Duran, Casey Dowling, Charles Antuna, Rocio Martinez, Robert Tubbs and Robert Wheat.

  • @17 Storm, Re: Waters, this old guy is not happy that Tanaka’s thugs got money for getting done to them what they enjoyed doing to others. There is justice however, IF they are able to reach into Leroy’s pocket and snatch out $360,000. I say IF because I am afraid the County may be compelled to pick up the tab. There NEVER seems to be justice in this frigging mess (I make an exception for those idiot-thugs who beat the crap out of that ‘banger over a cell phone). One only hopes a trial or two in 2016 will allow the Scales of Justice to finally swing the other way.

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