Search for Relisha Rudd Continues as Dive Teams Search National Arboretum

Relisha Rudd was last seen March 1, 2014, at a Northeast D.C. motel with a 51-year-old janitor at a homeless shelter

What to Know

  • Relisha Rudd was last seen March 1, 2014, at a Northeast D.C. motel with a 51-year-old janitor.
  • Rudd hadn't been at school since the month before her disappearance.
  • Dive teams are searching the National Arboretum in Northeast D.C.

Police in Washington, D.C., will search the National Arboretum again Thursday in their renewed efforts to find Relisha Rudd, the 8-year-old girl who vanished from a city homeless shelter more than two years ago.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said dozens of officers with K9 teams spent Wednesday combing through the arboretum in Northeast D.C. The search will resume Thursday morning, when dive teams will search a pond.

"It's not a large body of water, but it will take the divers some time to get through it," Lanier said at a news conference Wednesday morning. 

Lanier said the search area is based on new information that led them there. Police did not elaborate.

Rudd was last seen March 1, 2014, at a Northeast D.C. motel just down the street from the arboretum with 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum, a janitor at the homeless shelter where she lived with her mother and three brothers.

The 8-year-old'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. Rudd, a second-grader, hadn't been seen at Payne Elementary School since the month before her disappearance.

No one has been charged in her disappearance.

The day after a missing persons report was filed, Tatum's wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, was found dead in a motel in Oxon Hill, Maryland. A few days later, Tatum was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Kenilworth Park.

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 Rudd was last seen. Investigators have looked into the possibility Tatum killed Rudd and buried her in the park, but her body was never found.

In the two years since her disappearance, investigators and K-9 teams have searched multiple sites, including a construction site and the Anacostia River.

The most recent previous search for Rudd was conducted in December 2015, when dozens of police officers, federal agents and police dogs scoured a construction site in Northeast D.C. Nothing significant was found during the seven-hour search.

After Rudd'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 Rudd's family.

The report did suggest, however, 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