Police: Missing Relisha Rudd Feared Dead
Now in its second week, the case of missing eight-year-old girl Relisha Rudd is proving more perplexing, as more details surface. She was last seen on March 1, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
During a March 27 press conference near Kenilworth Park, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, “We cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her.” Lanier was referring to janitor Kahlil Malik Tatum, who worked at the shelter, where Rudd and her mother lived.
Last week, D.C. Police issued a regional alert for Rudd, believed by police to be with Tatum. Later that day, police issued an alert about the missing 1976 GMC white truck, which they had been looking for in search of Rudd in Hyattsville, Md.
Relisha Rudd’s mother – Shamika Young -- currently resides at a homeless shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital. A month ago, police reported, Young had allowed her daughter to be cared for by Tatum.
In its eighth day, the search has revealed interesting information about Rudd’s difficult past, making the case more convoluted. Records at the Daniel A. Payne Elementary School show Rudd has missed up to 30 days of school before going missing. Despite these attention-grabbing records, the city agency didn’t take action before Rudd had gone missing. School officials said they were confused about her absences from the excuses given by her relatives, who said Relisha was safely in the care of “Dr. Tatum.” Echoing this reassurance, Relisha’s mother Shamika Young, said Relisha was in a “safe place.”
The Washington Post reported that leading up to Rudd going missing there have been many miscalculations made by the city and institutions, such as the school and the shelter. For instance, city records reveal instances of physical abuse, lack of food, and unsanitary living conditions were present in the home of Relisha and her siblings. The D.C. Child and Family Service Agency has been involved with the family for years, however records do not show children being removed from various residences.
Another miscalculation was made on the part of the shelter, which failed to notice or report Tatum’s fireable offenses, such as offering gifts to children and spending time alone with Relisha. Both of these actions violate several shelter rules. “This is an unusual case,” said D.C. Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Beatriz Otero, according to the Washington Post. “The parent didn’t file the missing child report. There were various workers within DHS and the school system that became concerned. It was their call that alerted us.”
Look for updates on this article as more information about the investigation is disclosed.