MALIBU—The skeletal remains discovered in Malibu Canyon on August 9, 2010, have been positively identified. The remains belong to Mitrice Richardson, a young woman who had been missing from the Malibu area since September 2009. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winters stated the cause of death is pending further investigation.

The bones were found approximately 20 miles from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, where the missing Cal State Fullerton graduate had been detained after reportedly failing to pay for a meal at Geoffrey’s Malibu.Mitrice, who is bipolar, had left without any personal belongings or her vehicle, which had been impounded at the time of her arrest.

Richardson’s family accused the Malibu/Lost Hills Station deputies of agreeing to call the young woman’s mother once they arrived at the LA County station, and then hold her until her mother could pick her up: “That phone call never came and a mother’s biggest fears were realized as her daughter was released at around 1 a.m. in the dark, in an unfamiliar area without her ID, purse, phone, or car,” stated Michael Richardson, her father.

Consequently, in March, Michael Richardson pursued a claim against the City of Malibu. Benjamon Schonbrun, the lawyer in the case, stated that MichaelRichardson blamed the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for releasing his daughter in the early morning hours after her arrest. He alleges wrongdoing on the part of the sheriffs, as he says his daughter suffered “from mental issues,” and thus should not have been able to leave the sheriff’s station alone. Richardson was believed to be suffering from a “mental crisis” at the time of her arrest. However, the Office of Independent Review conducted an investigation in July, and concluded that the sheriffs followed protocol when they released Mitrice the night of her arrest as she did not show signs of “an existing mental illness.” The report also states that the family did not inform the sheriffs of Mitrice’s “depressed state of mind.”

At a news conference, Sheriff Lee Baca stated that although the report from the Office of Independent Review states the deputies acted “properly,” it does not mean that the sheriffs could not have done something more.