Relisha Tenay Rudd (Born October 29, 2005–disappeared March 1, 2014) is an 8-year old African-American girl who went missing in Washington, D.C. in February 2014, and has not been found. Rudd had been living in the D.C. General Shelter with her mother, when she was befriended by janitor Khalil Tatum, a former felon. Rudd stopped attending school, but it was a month before her absence was reported to police. Investigation revealed that the last sighting of her had been weeks prior when she was caught on camera with Tatum at an area hotel. Tatum's wife was found shot dead in a hotel in Prince George's County, Maryland in mid-March, and at the end of March, searchers found Tatum's body in a shed in the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, shot in an apparent suicide.
The case of Relisha Rudd received little coverage outside of the Washington D.C. area, leading to criticism that her case receives little attention due to her marginalization as a person of color and from an impoverished family.
In 2014, Rudd was living with her mother Shamika Young at the General Shelter. Khalil Tatum was a 51-year-old janitor at the shelter, and had a felony record for burglary, larceny, and breaking-and-entering. Tatum was imprisoned from 1993 to 2003, and again from 2004 to 2011. He was hired as a shelter janitor by the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, a contractor which operated the General Shelter and reportedly "other city homeless programs". Tatum was known for inappropriately fraternizing with shelter residents, and for paying particular attention to young girls. Tatum befriended Young, bought her daughter a tablet computer, and took her to see Disney on Ice. Eventually Young allowed Tatum to take the girl away overnight, allegedly to stay with him and his grandmother.
Rudd suddenly stopped attending school in February, but her mother provided a note saying she was having health problems and was in the care of a "Dr. Tatum". The school contacted Tatum at the number provided, but when he failed to show up for a meeting with them, a counselor contacted the police to report Rudd missing. The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia launched a missing-persons probe on 19 March, by which point Rudd had not been in school for a month.
The investigation revealed that Tatum and Rudd had been caught on camera walking down a hallway in a Holiday Inn Express in Northeast, Washington, D.C. on 26 February, and footage on 1 March showed her walking with Tatum to a room in a Days Inn on New York Avenue in D.C. The March 1st footage proved to be the last proof that Rudd was still alive.
Tatums' wife's death
Tatum's wife Andrea was found shot in the head in a motel in Prince George's County, Maryland on the same day Rudd was reported missing (March 20th). Surveillance tapes showed Kahlil and Andrea Tatum entering the hotel room the night before. Kahlil Tatum was last seen 2 March, the day after Rudd was last seen, while buying a shovel, lime, and 42-gallon trash bags. DC police obtained an arrest warrant for Kahlil Tatum in his wife's murder, but on 31 March, Tatum's body was found in a shed in Kenilworth Park, dead of apparent suicide, from the same gun that killed his wife.
Steve Wilkos TV show
In October, 2017, Relisha's mother, Shamika Young; her stepfather, Antonio Wheeler; and her grandmother, Melissa Young appear on The Steve Wilkos TV show. In polygraph tests, they are asked "Did you participate in any way in the disappearance of Relisha?". Both the stepfather Antonio & the grandmother Melissa answer "No", and the polygraph results confirm that they were telling the truth. Relisha's mother Shamika refuses to take the polygraph test.
There are a limited number of theories for what happened to Rudd, given Tatum's predatory behavior and violent murder-suicide shortly after her disappearance. Authorities generally believe that Rudd was either murdered by Tatum, or was sold to sex-traffickers. In an interview with The Washington Post, a senior law-enforcement official suspected that Tatum had been sexually exploiting Rudd, and possibly pimping her to others, and may have killed his wife due to her finding out about his activities.