Tuesday Marks Two Years Since Relisha Rudd Was Last Seen

Tuesday marks a tragic milestone in the case of Relisha Rudd, the missing D.C. girl who vanished from a city homeless shelter: It has been two years since she was last seen.

On March 1, 2014, the eight-year-old girl was seen at a Northeast D.C. motel with 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum. He was a janitor at D.C. General, the homeless shelter where Relisha lived with her mother and three brothers.

Relisha has not been seen since, and no one has been charged in her disappearance. Police believe Tatum committed suicide.

Relisha's family had allowed her to spend time with Tatum before her disappearance, and she appeared to have been missing for weeks before officials realized she was gone. Relisha, a second-grader, hadn't been seen at Payne Elementary School since the month before her disappearance.

Investigators said on March 10, 2014, Tatum posed as a doctor, telling city officials who were concerned for the girl's safety that she was sick with a neurological disorder and was undergoing treatment. When they asked for documents, "Dr. Tatum" said he would leave them at the shelter where Relisha and her family lived.

When officials went to the shelter March 19, 2014, to pick up the paperwork, they couldn't find "Dr. Tatum" or Relisha. Shortly after, a missing persons report was filed with D.C. police.

The next day, Tatum's wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, was found dead in a motel in Oxon Hill, Maryland. On March 31, 2014, Tatum was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Kenilworth Park.

There has been no sign of Relisha, who now would be 10 years old.

In the two years since then, investigators and K-9 teams have searched multiple sites, including at Kenilworth Park, a construction site and the Anacostia River.

Police have said Tatum purchased a shovel, lime and contractor-sized trash bags, and spent a significant amount of time at Kenilworth Park around the time Relisha was last seen. Investigators have looked into the possibility that Tatum killed Relisha and buried her in the park, but her body was never found. 

In December, police conducted a new round of searches, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier renewed her call for community members to come forward with any information about the girl's disappearance.

The FBI's Washington Field Office is assisting D.C. police with the ongoing investigation.

"One of the FBI's top priorities is protecting children from violent crimes and we remain committed to finding Relisha or any child that goes missing," the FBI said in a statement in December.

After Relisha's disappearance, D.C. officials took a second look at how they handled her case, but their report found the District couldn't have prevented her disappearance, citing, in part, misleading information provided by Relisha's family.

However, the report did suggest more than two dozen recommended policy changes on issues including how schools deal with unexcused absences, background checks for homeless shelter employees, and fraternization between families and shelter staff.

Contact Us