There’s an expression: “When everyone is watching the baby, no one is watching the baby.” Could this apply to the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd? Relisha had no shortage of family, friends, and teachers who loved and cared for her, yet she still disappeared in March of 2014 and remains missing to this day.
Relisha was born in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2005. She lived in an apartment with her mom, Shamika Young, and she was the eldest sister to two brothers, Irvine and Anotonio, Jr. Relisha took her role as big sister seriously and even acted as a mother figure. Family members say that Relisha loved playing with her little brothers, helping them with chores, and didn’t hesitate to admonish them if they did something wrong. This maternal instinct wasn’t limited to just her siblings. Her grandmother recalls how she even offered to help other parents with their babies — offering to change their diapers, push their strollers, feed, and burp them.
Relisha was described by family members and teachers as kindhearted, friendly, lovely, and very sweet. If you listen to some of their stories on the podcast “Through the Cracks” you might be inclined to call her spunky. Relisha's mother says that Relisha was the kind of person that everyone immediately fell in love with; she was everyone's best friend.
In 2012, Relisha's family moved into a shelter which was formerly D.C. General Hospital. It is here that a man named Khalil Tatum, who worked at the shelter, befriended Relisha’s family including mom, Shamika, and her boyfriend, Antonio. On March 13, after reaching 10 unexcused absences at Payne Elementary School, the school notified D.C.'s Child and Family Services Agency. They were told Relisha was under the care of a doctor who would excuse the absences. Six days later, a social worker visited the shelter where Relisha and her family were living and learned that the doctor responsible for Relisha was actually Kahlil Tatum, a janitor from the shelter. At this point, her family and the authorities feared he had taken Relisha. An investigation began to determine Relisha’s last known whereabouts.
Relisha Rudd was last seen on February 26, 2014, on surveillance footage at a Holiday Inn Express in Northeast D.C. with Kahlil Tatum. However, according to police reports she was also with Tatum on March 1, at a Days Inn, was the It was the last known location that Relisha was seen, and nearly a month before she was reported missing. The following day, Tatum was seen purchasing 42-gallon, self-tie contractor trash bags, a shovel, and lime from a store nearby. He was later seen near Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.
Relisha Rudd's mother, Shamika, and her stepfather Antonio were questioned in the shelter. Police also question Relisha's aunt, Ashley, and her grandmother Melissa. On the same day, Kahlil Tatum checks into a room at a Red Roof Inn in Maryland with his wife, Andrea.
On March 18, nearly 3 weeks after her last known sighting, D.C. police hold a press conference asking the public for more information regarding Relisha's disappearance before issuing an AMBER alert for Relisha. Meanwhile in Maryland, Andrea, Kahlil's wife, is found dead due to a gunshot wound to the head in the hotel where she and Khalil were staying. A week later, law enforcement redefines the search for Relisha to a "recovery mission".
On April 1, Kahlil Tatum was found in Kenilworth Park with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He used the same gun he used to kill his wife, Andrea. A week later, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray ordered an investigation into the city's response to Relisha's disappearance.
Where is the case today? The published report stated that although there was miscommunication among several agencies, no government intervention could have prevented the disappearance of Relisha. In 2017, Washington D.C. officially named July 11th Relisha Rudd Remembrance Day.
In 2020, a new age-progression photo to show what she may look like at 14-year-sold was released. There is currently a reward of up to $25,000 for information regarding the location of Relisha Rudd. If anyone has any information about her disappearance, they are encouraged to call (202) 727-9099 or text 50411.