The Case for Relisha Rudd

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By C.N. Staff Writer

Rudd seen walking with Tatum in D.C. hotel
Rudd seen walking with Tatum in D.C. hotel

By now the District, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area has heard about the missing child case involving 8-year old, Relisha Rudd. Search teams have gone out looking for her and have recently found her alleged abductor dead. Many still question, ‘Where is Relisha?’ as it has been two months since she was first reported missing. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has said, “Yes of course we are frustrated. It’s very difficult to control individual behavior and in this case it led us to a very late start. And the very late start has been very difficult for us to catch up.”

Rudd lived in a homeless shelter, at the old D.C. General Hospital, with her mother, Shamika Young, 27 and three younger brothers. According to details about the case, Young handed Relisha over to suspected abductor, Khalil Tatum, 54. Tatum worked at the homeless shelter where Relisha and her mother lived as a janitor. It was with Tatum that Relisha was last seen, via the silent witness of hazy, time-stamped security camera footage, walking side-by-side down the hallway of a Holiday-Inn Express and entering one of the rooms. He had also been recorded buying extra-large leaf bags at a home store and his cell phone tracked to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Park—an island of verdant green wetland in the northeast part of the city. D.C. Police went to the area searching for Relisha, but found Tatum’s body in an isolated storage shed. He had shot himself to death.

March 19th is when the news broke of Relisha missing. For weeks after the announcement digital display boards had broadcast Amber alerts: “BLK Female, 8 YRS, 4’0”, 70-80 LBS,” along with a contact number to report sightings. Radio stations had urged citizens repeatedly to be on the lookout. Amber alerts were issued as far as Georgia, as metropolitan police officers didn’t know how far she could have been abducted.

It soon came out that Relisha had been missing from her home since February 28, and had not been seen at all after March 1. On February 28th, according to police records, Shamika Young asked Tatum to take Relisha home with him. It is the last time she sees her daughter. Later that day, Tatum and Relisha are seen walking toward a room in a Holiday Inn Express on Bladensburg Road NE, side by side holding bags and entering a room. A counselor at Payne Elementary, where Relisha attended, writes a referral to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency noting her many absences. School officials say she missed more than 30 days, but her mother for illness, citing a “Dr. Tatum, excused her absences.

On March 19th the investigation began to pick up when Child Protective Services requested to meet with Tatum, but failed to show up. That same evening D.C. police launch a missing-person investigation. That same evening, he checks into Room 132 of the Red Roof Inn in Oxon Hill, Md., and is seen with four people. None of them, police later say is Relisha. On March 20th, police find Tatum’s wife murdered at the Red Roof Inn and issue an arrest warrant. On March 25th the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issue a $25,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.

As late as April 19th, police were still unable to locate Relisha. While Chief Lanier says Tatum may have killed her, she said the police department “cannot ignore” that she has been gone over a month and continue to search for her.

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