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Police Still Hope Girl Alive But Say Janitor 'May Have Killed Her'

Police say missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd may have been killed. The man who took her bought contractor bags and spent significant time at a Kenilworth park where police and dogs searched Thursday.

Relisha Tenau Rudd. Credit: Prince George's County Police
Relisha Tenau Rudd. Credit: Prince George's County Police

Authorities can’t ignore the possibility that missing 8-year-old Relisha Tenau Rudd has been killed by the janitor of a homeless shelter where she lived, said Washington, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier at a news conference Thursday.

She described the police presence at a Kenilworth park Thursday in Northeast DC as a recovery operation, but “we have not given up hope on finding Relisha alive.”

Relisha was last seen March 1 with Kahlil Malik Tatum in the District of Columbia, with her mother’s permission. On March 2, Tatum bought contractor-weight trash bags and spent a considerable amount of time in the Kenilworth park where investigators and search dogs have spent much of Thursday.

Police can’t ignore the possibility that “he may have killed her,” the police chief said of the girl’s fate.

Tatum was seen at work, and at various location around the District until March 22, Lanier said. Relisha was not seen with him.

There have been no confirmed sightings for Tatum since his wife was found dead last week in a Prince George’s County hotel room, Lanier said.

The FBI has added Tatum to its most wanted list; authorities say he is considered armed and dangerous.

A reward for information leading to Tatum’s arrest and the recovery of Rudd has increased to $70,000.

The girl’s grandmother told WTOP that the child suffers from severe headaches and seizures, which Tatum was aware of and may have used to keep Rudd out of school. 

Patch’s earlier reporting:

Authorities on Thursday were searching both in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta for the missing girl. FBI agents and local police on Thursday morning were at a Northeast DC park near the Kenilworth neighborhood and four miles from the homeless shelter where the girl was living, reports The Washington Post. Police say she disappeared with a janitor, Kahlil Malik Tatum, who worked there. 

The search is concentrated near the 1500 block of Anacostia Avenue NE.

The FBI also said Thursday that Tatum, who is accused of shooting and killing his wife in Prince George's County, could be in the Atlanta area along with the missing girl.

Investigators believe the 51-year-old suspect has ties to the metro Atlanta area. 

Digital billboards in downtown Atlanta were flashing photos of the two on Thursday morning. Billboards from Pennsylvania to Florida are reportedly flashing their photos.

Police issued an Amber Alert for the Washington girl last week after they found a woman linked to the case dead from an apparent gunshot wound in a Prince George’s County hotel room. Officers later found the white 1976 GMC truck they believed the two were traveling in on March 20 in Hyattsville, MD.

Tatum is described as a black man, standing 5-foot-7 and weighing 170 pounds. He has tattoos on his chest and both arms, and a scar on his left arm. He should be considered armed and dangerous.

Relisha Tenau Rudd is described as a black female, standing four feet tall and weighing about 70 to 80 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes, and a medium complexion.

An arrest warrant has been issued in Prince George’s County for Tatum for the killing of his wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, 51, of Washington.

The Prince George’s County Police Department believes Tatum, also of Washington, has taken the girl.

Police on Tuesday released video of the pair in a hotel hallway. The surveillance footage of Rudd and Tatum was taken on Feb. 26 at the Holiday Inn Express in Northeast D.C., says FOX DC. The video shows the two walking down a hallway in the hotel. Rudd is shown wearing a pair of pink boots and a purple Helly Hansen brand jacket with white stripes in the video.

Investigators have traveled to several states in an effort to find Rudd and Tatum, police told the TV station. Police will not say where the two were last seen together.

Antonio Wheeler, the little girl’s stepfather, says Kahlil Tatum was seen at the D.C. homeless shelter where he works on March 19. He then vanished when Wheeler asked him to bring Rudd home; authorities have said the family trusted Tatum and Rudd often stayed at the Tatum house.

The FBI has announced a reward of up to $70,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Tatum and the location of Rudd. 

The investigation is being conducted jointly by the Metropolitan Police Department, Prince George’s County Police Department and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. 

See Also:

Video Released of Man Sought in Wife's Murder, Missing 8-Year-Old Girl

Hunt Continues for Man Sought in Wife's Murder, Missing 8-Year-Old Girl

FRANCINE ABELL (ROCKELLI) March 28, 2014 at 07:27 AM
Sooo many ADULTS let this child down. At 8 years old, she never would have gotten a clue with people around her supporting his relationship with her. Too bad responsibility for her was so easily dismissed. Shame on anyone who could have prevented this.
Uncurly DIY Brazilian Keratin Straightener March 28, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Oh really, Francine Abell? "Sooo many ADULTS let her down? Did I let her down? Did YOU let her down? The ONLY PEOPLE WHO LET HER DOWN WERE HER OWN PARENTS, who did not care enough not to leave here with some strange man for over 28 days before they reported her missing. Believe it or not, people are supposed to be responsible for their own children. This mom (and we never even learn about a real dad, just some dude the mom is shacking up with in a homeless shelter--it's doubtful mom and dad were ever even married to each other) was too irresponsible to fulfill the most basic responsibility a parent has to her child. STOP PERPETUATING the damaging lie that everyone else is to blame for the selfishness of crappy people. I'm already paying taxes to house the mother and her boyfriend. What else do you think I should do? I legally can't do the only thing that would have prevented this: require the mom to be sterilized.

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