On April 15, 2023, Dr. Ronda Hampton was a featured speaker at WLP’s #Standing4BlackGirls Leimert Park community action to amplify the lives of missing and murdered Black women and girls across sexuality. For over a decade, Dr. Hampton has been unwavering in her efforts to raise awareness about Mitrice Richardson, her former mentee. Mitrice was a 24-year-old African-American queer young woman who went missing on September 17, 2009, after police released her from a jail in Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. Mitrice was subsequently murdered by an unknown assailant(s) and her case remains unsolved amidst allegations of misconduct by the L.A. Sheriffs’ Department. The following is an open letter to Mitrice by Dr. Hampton:
Happy Birthday Mitrice, I still think about you every day. I continue to strategize ways to get the LASD to re-open your case , if it was ever really opened in the first place. I spoke at an event recently, #Standing4blackgirls, and told your story. What I did not know at the time you went missing and your skeletal remains were discovered was that although Black women are disproportionately likely to go missing, murdered and victims of human trafficking, we are the least likely to get media coverage or attention from law enforcement. Along the way I learned the phrase “Missing White Woman’s Syndrome” – I did not understand that term in 2009, but now it all makes sense why Dr. Phil and his team approached us about doing your story but only under the condition that we lie about the circumstances of your missing status to bring in more ratings. When we would not lie, he flew to Virginia to cover the story of a missing white girl.
The lack of concern and attention to missing and murdered Black women also explains why Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and other prominent Black leaders were not interested in having rallies for you or assisting in any way. Gloria Allred, the defender of women’s rights, also refused to help. I can even remember begging Mark Ridley Thomas from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to reinstate a reward in your name – he refused. Mark Ridley Thomas was recently found guilty of bribery and conspiracy. He is facing prison time. Former Sheriff Lee Baca, who was the sheriff when you went missing, served time in federal prison for corruption as well as Paul Tanaka the former undersheriff. I pleaded with both of these men to assist with your case and they just stood by and protected the department. That also goes for former Sheriff Alex Villanueva who vowed to assist in your case if elected, he was elected and I assisted his campaign in many ways but after he was elected, he became drunk with power. He did not get elected for a second term and now we have a new sheriff, Robert Luna, who really has no interest in your case at all. Sheron Cummings, the jailer who released you in the middle of the night has recently retired from the department. Maybe she will now come forward with what she knows and she knows something. Tom Martin, the captain of the Lost Hills station who hid the video of you when you were in custody was accused and investigated for rape. He denies the accusations and of course he was investigated by his own department and cleared. He is retired. Tui Wright, the head of the Malibu Search and Rescue team and who made no effort to steer the searches for you in the area you were last seen and subsequently found, retired under a bit of scandal when he interfered with the investigation of the murder of Tristan Beaudette.
The officer who arrested you, Armando Loureiro is in a lawsuit against the department because he was suspended for 20 days after terrorizing a minor on a bicycle and then stealing the bike.
As for me, I have found some peace in helping other families of those who have gone missing and I wrote a children’s book called Amber Goes Missing which will be released May 7th (now available on Amazon). The book is actually part of a book series which features The Skool Kids which is focused safety issues. I self published the book for many reasons. I call the publishing company Mitrice Media Inc.
Take care my friend,