Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | 3:55 p.m.
A woman who disappeared last year after being released from a sheriff's substation in Malibu may be living in Nevada, authorities said Wednesday.
Investigators who interviewed witnesses reported "credible sightings" of Mitrice Richardson in the Las Vegas area, according to Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
"You're not in trouble, you're not subject to arrest. We just want to know you're OK," Whitmore said, making law enforcement's plea to Richardson. "Please contact police or a family member."
The 25-year-old woman, who suffers from bipolar disorder, went missing Sept. 16 after being detained briefly when she didn't pay an $89 bill at Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu. She walked away from the Calabasas substation because her car had been impounded.
Authorities searched the Malibu Canyon area four times without turning up any clues.
Richardson's father, Michael Richardson, said Wednesday that a Sheriff's Department official told him recently that investigators had gathered information on 80 possible sightings of his daughter in Las Vegas. Whitmore would not confirm that number but said, "They wouldn't be going to Las Vegas if they didn't believe the information was credible."
In May, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters asked the Justice Department to investigate the Sheriff's Department's handling of Richardson, a Cal State Fullerton graduate. Waters said she believed Richardson's civil rights were violated when she was released without a car, cell phone or purse. The Sheriff's Department has said Richardson appeared rational and it believed it had a legal obligation to release her in a timely manner.
Her parents have each brought negligence lawsuits against the sheriff, including a wrongful death suit filed last month by her mother.
Metro Police spokesman Bill Cassell said authorities in Nevada planned a joint news conference with Los Angeles sheriff's investigators at 11 a.m. today in Las Vegas to seek the public's help in locating Richardson.
Michael Richardson told the Los Angeles Times that a sheriff's investigator discussed with him the possibility that his daughter was working as a prostitute in Las Vegas. Richardson said it was possible she is purposely avoiding friends and family or was under the influence of someone keeping her isolated.