Eight-year-old Relisha Rudd has been missing since March 1st.
She is believed to have been taken from a D.C. homeless shelter by a man named Khalil Tatum, a janitor at the shelter. Rudd’s mother, a resident at the shelter delayed investigators almost a month because she told school officials Tatum was a doctor and that the child was sick.
It is unclear why Rudd’s mother would have willingly let her child go with Tatum, although he had become known as a friend to some of the children in the shelter, although such friendships were against shelter policies. Tatum cannot answer any questions about Rudd’s disappearance because he’s dead, an apparent victim of a suicide after his wife’s body was found in a Maryland hotel. Despite that, the search for Rudd continues.
People from as far away as Maine and Georgia came together Saturday in Northeast Washington to search for signs of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd. She’s been missing for seven months and investigators believe it is unlikely she is still alive. Still, searchers are strongly compelled to find out what happened to Relisha. Four teams searched three areas near Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Northeast D.C. A search and rescue team from Maine arrived in the area Thursday to also help with the search.
Rudd was last seen on March 1 at a motel on New York Avenue with 51-year-old Khalil Tatum, a janitor at the homeless shelter where her family lived.
Police say Tatum purchased a shovel, lime and contractor-sized trashbags at a Home Depot, and spent a significant amount of time at Kenilworth Park around the time Relisha was last seen.
He was found dead in the park later that month, as police and volunteers searched for signs of Relisha. Police believe he committed suicide. Authorities were looking into the possibility that Tatum had killed Relisha and buried her body in the park.
Tatum had also been wanted in the death of his wife, Andrea. Her body was found at a Red Roof Inn in Oxon Hill March 20 during the search for Relisha.