Patrons at Geoffrey’s, a trendy Malibu, Calif., restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean, were among the last few people to see Mitrice Richardson alive. After she went missing in the Malibu hills, those who remembered seeing her eating at Geoffrey’s alone said she “behaved strangely.” Richardson left the restaurant without paying the bill and was subsequently arrested and taken to the Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff’s station.

Authorities seized her car that night and released Richardson with no purse or cellphone in the dark, early morning hours of Sept. 17, 2009. It was the last time anyone saw the 24-year-old alive.

Richardson’s story made national headlines when her family launched a nationwide search for her. When after several months there was no verifiable sighting of Richardson, her family began to fear the worst. Richardson’s mother, Latice Sutton, questioned how authorities could have released a young woman alone in a wilderness area with no transportation and no means of communication.

Rumors that Richardson had been sighted in Las Vegas were quelled, when the young woman’s nude, partially mummified body was discovered in a nearby canyon in August 2010.

Family members think Richardson may have been having some kind of mental health crisis the night she was arrested, which her mother believes should have led authorities to be concerned for her safety. Sutton sued Los Angeles County for negligence and wrongful death.

On Aug. 23, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement in the case. If all parties sign off on the agreement, the county will pay Mitrice’s parents, Latice Sutton and Michael Richardson, $450,000 each.

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