LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Department are in disagreement about whether or not protocol was violated, regarding the handling of Mitrice Richardson’s remains.
The coroners office says Sheriff’s deputies may have violated the law and undermined the entire investigation, when they moved the remains found in August without the coroner’s permission.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told the Los Angeles Times that he was very clear with sheriff’s officials that the remains of Mitrice Richardson should not be removed, when they were discovered in the Malibu ravine, and said he couldn’t recall a case where a police agency moved remains without the coroner’s clearance.
After Richardson’s entire skeleton was discovered, Winter told detectives not to touch it, and added that he had “never given authorization to pick up entire skeletal remains.”
Winter said sheriff’s officials consented to his request, and that he was shocked to hear that just minutes later the bones had been lifted into a helicopter and were headed back to the station.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore acknowledged that deputies moved the body without permission, but said they did so because of concerns animals might destroy the remains, if they were left in the ravine as night began to fall.
Winter said the cause of Richardson’s death was inconclusive, but he would not go as far as to say that if the body had not been moved, the results would have been any different. He did say however that the movement took away from the thoroughness of his investigation.
On her blogsite, journalist, community activist, and family friend Jazmyne Cannick, who has been closely following the case said, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you never move the remains of a body until after a forensic team has gathered all of it’s evidence. Thank you CSI and Law and Order.
“I said it before, and I will say it again, someone is covering something up. If you recall, it was Sheriff Lee Baca, himself, who said at a press conference announcing (that) Mitrice (was) found and that the sheriff’s deputies retrieved her (in conjunction) with the coroner’s office.” This new discovery shows that was not correct information.
“No one can tell me, and expect me to believe them, that Mitrice Richardson voluntarily ended up in the remote spot where her body was found. (I believe) She was hidden there with the hopes of her never being found.”
“I have always believed, and quite frankly still do, that someone from the Sheriff department either murdered Mitrice or knows exactly who did. I still believe this to be the case and the coroner’s report only makes that hunch stronger.”
Richardson was arrested in September 2009, after failure to pay an $89 dinner tab at Geoffreys restaurant in Malibu. She was released from the Malibu Lost Hills Sheriffs Department after midnight, alone, without her purse, car, or a cell phone.
Richardson was not seen or heard from again until her remains were found 11 months later. The Sheriff department has been under criticism for the allegedly reckless way they handled Richardson’s release, and are currently facing two lawsuits filed by the Sutton/Richardson family.