*(via LA Times) Three months after the partial skeletal remains of Mitrice Richardson (pictured) were found in a remote, rugged area of Malibu Canyon, her mother and a small group of friends made the difficult trek to the site for a memorial service.

They wore protective gloves and helmets. They were guided by search and rescue personnel. But once there on Nov. 6, they tried to find peace. Latice Sutton placed sunflowers, her daughter’s favorites, on the ground. They played some of Aretha Franklin’s music.

Then they all saw something small, skeletal and yellowish lying in the dirt and leaves. It was, they later determined, a finger bone. “It was upsetting, distressing,” said Clea Koff, the founder of a nonprofit organization that assists people in forensic investigations of missing or deceased family members. “But it immediately told us that despite the best efforts, the removal of the body on Aug. 9 may have compromised the investigation.”

The bone, which Koff believes is Richardson’s, was turned over to authorities.

Richardson’s mother has asked the Sheriff’s Department and coroner’s office to search the area for more remains. She also wants her daughter’s body exhumed for testing that they hope might lead to a definitive cause of death.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said that Sheriff Lee Baca “has no challenges to the family wanting to exhume the remains. He has always said he supports the family.”

Richardson’s remains were found Aug. 9 in Malibu Canyon, nearly 11 months after she was released from the Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff’s station early on Sept. 17, 2009.

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