While searching the target area of Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. for missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, authorities came across a corpse that has been tentatively identified as that of Khalil Tatum, the man suspected of kidnapping the child in early March.
At a Monday evening press conference, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier thanked volunteers who have helped in searching for Rudd, and commented that the adult male body is most likely Tatum, as it is “consistent with his appearance,” and that the death was likely a suicide, due to a gunshot wound to the head.
Lanier also stated that the searchers “are still here for the reason we came here to begin with, to look for Relisha,” adding that “The discovery was a shock for us.” Lanier confirmed that the 700-acre park had been the recent focus of search efforts by air, and on the ground utilizing K-9 units.
Rudd was last seen on March 1st with Tatum, who had been working as a janitor at the city homeless shelter where Relisha lived. After Rudd went missing, authorities found Tatum’s wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, dead in a motel room in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The search was directed to Kenilworth Park after police learned Tatum had spent time there around March 1st or 2nd, after purchasing 42-gallon, industrial-sized trash bags.
Rudd’s mother Shamika Young said she’d known Tatum for years, and was allowing him to care for her daughter. Young commented, “I didn’t see anything wrong with him. He’s a good guy,” adding that “when (Relisha) did go out with him, he brought her back. He would take her shopping, took her to see Disney on Ice, he bought her a tablet for Christmas, took her out to eat with his granddaughter.”
Lanier has stated the search for Rudd is ongoing. “Right now the best I can tell you is the search is underway. And there is more work to be done and more searching to be done.”
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