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Relisha Rudd Disappeared Mysteriously

Relisha Vanished

Relisha Rudd, who had lived with her mother at a homeless shelter at the old D.C. General Hospital, has been the subject of a violent search. She vanished while she was spending time with a shelter manager, Kahlil Tatum, 51, who shot his wife and then himself. Relisha simply disappeared.

NOVEMBER 2013, Relisha’s Family:

She is still alive': The hope behind a photo of Relisha Rudd released four  years after she vanished - The Washington Post
Credit: Washington Post

Social workers found proof that children were unsupervised and that one child had been thrown to the ground and slapped, causing a split lip. This occurred while the family was living at the homeless refuge in the old D.C. General Hospital.

FEBRUARY 26, 2014:

Kahlil Malik Tatum, a caretaker at the homeless shelter at the old D.C. General Hospital, is seen with Relisha walking toward a room in a Holiday Inn Express on Bladensburg Road NE. Police think Relisha’s mother, Shamika Young, handed her daughter over Tatum, but Young declines she did so.

MARCH 1, 2014:

D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier told there are no confirmed sightings of Tatum and Relisha together after March 1, and no sightings of Relisha at all after that date.

MARCH 13, 2014:

An adviser at Payne Elementary writes a referral to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency pointing out Relisha’s many absences. She missed more than 30 days, but officials say many were excused by her mother for disease, citing a “Dr. Tatum.”

MARCH 19, 2014: The inquiry Begins

Acting on the referral, a public worker calls Tatum, who manages a meeting at the shelter. He does not show up. The worker discovers that he is a caretaker and had left his shift early that day. The referral says that a school officer called “concerned regarding academic negligence and claimed that Ms. Young was incapable to account for Relisha’s whereabouts.”
D.C. police launch a missing-person investigation. At 9:39 p.m., an official calls Tatum’s cell, but it goes straight to voice mail and is never again reactivated.

At 10:04 p.m., Tatum 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. Less than an hour later, three people leave.

MARCH 20, 2014: Police discover a lost truck and charge Tatum

One person returns to the motel at 5:40 a.m. and sees Tatum’s wife, Andrea Tatum, lying on the bed. He is not allowed inside. He tells police that in the last month he helped Tatum do Internet browses for a handgun and downloaded pictures on an Apple iPad.

— At 8:01 a.m., Prince George’s County Police received a recommendation from D.C. Police to help with the missing child. They learn Tatum might be driving a maroon 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer with a Washington Redskins emblem on the back window. Police say the car was seen parked outside Room 132 of the Red Roof Inn. They went inward and found Andrea Tatum, 51, lying face down on a bed and shot once in the head.

— Police put out a hint for another vehicle, a white GMC truck, but find that abandoned in Hyattsville. Tatum is charged on a warrant with killing in connection with the murder.

MARCH 25, 2014: A reward for information

The FBI releases a video of Tatum and Relisha in the Holiday Inn in the Northeast taken on Feb. 26. They post a $25,000 prize for the return of Relisha and police in Prince George’s post a separate $25,000 reward for evidence guiding to Tatum’s arrest in the killing.

MARCH 26, 2014: Officers say they were misled

District officers say they were duped into thinking Relisha’s extended absences were excused, citing the wrong reference to a “Dr. Tatum.” They defended the handling of the trial, saying the school informed child welfare officials by the law.

MARCH 28, 2014: Tatum had contact with other girls

Police say Tatum also had contact with many other young girls at the shelter, even though such contact is strictly restricted.

MARCH 31, 2014: Police: Body found in park likely Tatum

Police Chief Cathy Lanier says detectives think a man found dead Monday in a D.C. park is Kahlil Tatum, the janitor doubted of abducting 8-year-old Relisha Rudd.

APRIL 1, 2014: Body positively identified as Tatum

The body found during an inquiry for missing Relisha Rudd is positively known as Kahlil Tatum.

APRIL 6, 2014: Wanting to escape

Relatives say Relisha wanted out of the homeless shelter so desperately that she would fake asthma attacks to stay at their homes. Adults who were close to her narrated her arriving with dusty clothes, dirty hair, and an empty stomach, and they said she often didn’t want to leave.

APRIL 19, 2014: Volunteers undeterred

More than two dozen searchers fanned out across four locations in Northeast and Southeast Washington, snatching fliers with a ubiquitous black and white image of Relisha wearing braids.

DEC. 10, 2015: Police resume investigation for Relisha Rudd

The search began again for Relisha Rudd as more than 60 police detectives, cadets, and federal agents looked carefully through a huge construction site in Northeast Washington.

APRIL 6, 2016: Police launch a new search

Police launched a new inquiry for Relisha, explaining it would involve divers around the National Arboretum

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