The 10-year anniversary of Mitrice Richardson’s disappearance, and the press conference at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department on September 17th, proved to be a pivotal time in the relationship between family and friends of Richardson, Malibu and surrounding communities, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
The outcome of the press conference prompted The Local Malibu to release new information to the public (already in the hands of the Sheriff’s Department), of alleged crimes committed under the color of authority that occurred at the time of Richardson’s disappearance.
Crimes of Opportunity
A large ominous cloud has been hanging over the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department since Mitrice Richardson disappeared in 2009, and the clouds only became darker when her body was found 11 months later, approximately 6 miles from where she was released from custody, minutes after midnight on September 17th, 2009.
Last summer, shortly after the body of Tristan Beaudette was found murdered at Malibu Creek State Park, one of our readers following The Local Malibu social media posts on the shootings came across the link to the Mitrice Richardson documentary, Lost Compassion. One of our followers posted the link to the documentary because of the close proximity of the crimes, and their potential involvement in Richardson’s death, which still remains undetermined according to the L.A. County Coroner’s office.
After watching the documentary, our reader contacted her friend, who used to live in the area at the time of Richardson’s disappearance, and prompted her to watch “Lost Compassion”. Shortly after, Dr. Ronda Hampton, a clinical psychologist and friend and mentor to Richardson, received a phone call from a woman who disclosed she was a victim of sexual assault by a man she saw in the video, Captain Tom Martin of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department. The same man who admitted to lying about the existence of, and hiding the video of Mitrice Richardson while she was in custody.
The victim was in her early 20s at the time, and called Dr. Hampton to offer support in the fight for justice in the Richardson case. While the victim felt there was nothing that could be done in her alleged sexual assault case against Martin, she insisted on telling Dr. Hampton her story feeling there could be a potential connection to the Richardson case. The victim’s alleged rape by Captain Martin occurred just 2 months before Richardson’s disappearance.
Dr. Hampton encouraged the victim to file a report with the Sheriff’s Department, and assisted filing a criminal Internal Affairs complaint that was investigated from late 2018, into early 2019.
Investigators deemed the report by the victim reliable enough to where it reached a higher level of investigation prompting investigators to travel out of state to interview the victim in person.
The victim of Martin’s alleged sexual assault was living in a sober living home at the time of the incident ,and attended a group therapy session that night.
Her alleged attacker, Captain Martin, routinely drove an unmarked vehicle (as he explained in this interview shortly after being promoted although he admitted to suppressing evidence), and followed the victim two nights in a row, as she left the group therapy session.
The first night the victim was pulled over by Martin, he noticed there was someone else present in the vehicle. Martin began talking to the two women inappropriately, and cited them both for “littering” ( Martin claimed they threw cigarettes out the window which both women maintained they did not) and released them.
The second night, Martin allegedly followed the victim leaving the group therapy session, and pulled her over again, on Kanan Rd., after midnight.
Martin allegedly asked the victim to get out of the vehicle, walk around the car, and pushed her into the back seat where he allegedly raped her. Martin warned his victim if she told anyone about the attack that “nobody is going to believe you because you’re a drug addict, and if you say anything it will ruin your sobriety”.
The Sheriff’s Department could not proceed with the charges because of lack of physical evidence (due to the amount of time that elapsed since the alleged crime), however the investigator said the victim could re-open the case at any time and expressed a need more victims to come forward.
Smoke and Mirrors
Under Baca’s administration, in order to overshadow any wrongdoing by the Sheriff’s Department, and instead of disciplinary action for suppressing and the potential destruction of evidence (the Richardson video), Baca’s protocol was to “promote” Martin, with a pay increase.
Martin’s “promotion”to commander at LASD headquarters put him in charge of the detectives division, including the Special Victims Unit, which handles sexual assault cases including Mitrice Richardson’s.
When questioned by reporters at the September 17th press conference about Martin’s actions in the Richardson case, which include denying the video existed and suppressing vital evidence, Sheriff Villanueva said:
“That information…again…that’s 10 years ago, I can’t account for something that happened when I was literally a Sgt. on the department… If there was something I could do with that administratively and I had the legs to do it , I could… act on that. Most of the people involved at that level have since retired, I don’t have the teeth to do it…”
By “lacking the teeth to do it” Villanueva could be referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Panel, which was dismantled by the Board of Supervisors recently, and was vital to Villanueva’s on-going efforts to uncover the corruption in the department. Under the new regime at LASD, the Richardson case was supposed to be the first civilian case to be reviewed.
Me Too in Malibu?
Sources believe more victims of sexual assault under the color of authority occurred in our community during the time Mitrice Richardson disappeared, and authorities want the victims to come forward as there may be vital information linking these cases.
If you have information you believe may be connected to or directly related to the Mitrice Richardson case, call the anonymous tip line at 310.906.0435. All calls will remain anonymous.