The mother of missing Los Angeles woman Mitrice Richardson expressed doubts over the weekend about reports that the 25-year-old Cal State Fullerton alum might have been spotted in Las Vegas recently.
The June sighting by a former teenage friend was made at the Rio Hotel in June and, because authorities said they couldn't discount the report, it prompted the nearly year-long search for the woman to focus on Sin City. That concerned mother Latice Sutton, who doubted that someone who hasn't seen Richardson in nine years could have ID'd the woman.
"Contrary to law enforcement official statements during their press conference, Mitrice did not grow up with, go to school with, nor spend any significant time with this witness," Sutton said in a statement published by CNN.
The sighting seemed to electrify efforts to find the woman, who went missing Sept. 17 after she was released in early morning darkness from the sheriff's Los Hills station near Malibu. She had been picked up for allegedly failing to pay a bill at a Malibu restaurant.
"This is the first lead in the 10 months that we have been doing this that we are unable to show that it is not a good lead ... ," Los Angeles police Capt. Kevin McClure said last week. "It is not a verified sighting of her here, but we feel good enough to come up here and spend a good deal of time to get that information out to the community -- that we believe she may be here ... "
Sutton wants to continue to focus efforts around those barren hills above Malibu.
She "hopes this is not a diversionary tactic to redirect attention and efforts away from where Mitrice was last known to be last seen -- leaving the Los Angeles Sheriff's department, Malibu/Lost Hills station, without her cell phone, money, transportation, or asthma medication, which is where their massive search efforts and public plea should be concentrated," Sutton stated.
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Her family has said the missing woman suffers from mental health issues and, on the day she was arrested witnesses reported she was acting strange.
Her father, who is suing the sheriff's department over the early morning release, said investigators told him it was possible that Richardson could be working as a prostitute in Vegas and that someone could be deliberately keeping her from contacting family and friends.
Sutton, who's also suing the department, wasn't buying the Vegas angle.
She does not "believe the sighting of Mitrice by a teenage acquaintance is a credible sighting since he has not seen her since she was 15 years old, which was over nine years ago," Sutton stated.