Los Angeles police on Thursday announced they were focusing on Las Vegas in their search for 25-year-old Mitrice Richardson, who went missing last summer after leaving the sheriff's Lost Hills station in early morning darkness. Authorities actually addressed the woman directly, sending a message that she's not in any trouble if she comes forward.

It was originally thought that Richardson might be in the hills and canyons around the sheriff's station, but police say she might have been spotted in Las Vegas in June. One sighting put her at the Rio Hotel. As a result both Los Angeles police and sheriff's authorities have been in Sin City looking for the onetime resident of the city of L.A.

At a news conference in Las Vegas Thursday, Los Angeles police Capt. Kevin McClure said:

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 … 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 … She was actually sighted by somebody who actually knew her and had had a personal relationship with her, and that individual is very confident that the person he approached in the Rio hotel, that it was Mitrice Richardson.

Richardson's father told the Los Angeles Times that investigators discussed with him the possibility Richardson was working as a prostitute in Vegas and that someone might deliberately be keeping her from communicating with friends, family and authorities.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore addressed the woman directly and asked her to “please … contact us.”

Her case has been vexing because Richardson is an educated woman from a concerned family. But authorities indicated she might have been acting strange the September day she was arrested and taken to the Lost Hills station. She she was taken into custody for allegedly failing to pay a bill at a Malibu restaurant.

Both her parents are suing the sheriff's department, alleging negligence when deputies released her in a somewhat remote area in early morning darkness on Sept. 17.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

LA Weekly