Published March 23, 2014
The mother of a missing 8-year-old is pleading for the return of her daughter, who police believe was taken by a janitor at the homeless shelter where the girl’s family resides.
Shamika Young told FOX 5 DC on Friday that she is afraid for the safety of her missing daughter, Relisha Rudd, after police obtained an arrest warrant for the shelter’s janitor, 51-year-old Khalil Tatum, charging him with the murder of his wife, Andrea Tatum.
Andrea Tatum’s body was found Thursday in a Red Roof Inn in Oxon Hill, Md., one day after Relisha was reported missing. The discovery came as police also found the white truck connected to the case and believed to belong to Khalil Tatum, according to the Washington Post.
Andrea Tatum’s body reportedly showed signs of trauma, but police did not reveal how she died.
According to The Post, police said that Relisha’s family allowed her to be cared for by Khalil Tatum, whom a relative said the family had come to know during the 18 months they resided at the shelter.
Relisha, 8, is 4 feet tall and weighs 70 to 80 pounds. Police did not know what she might be wearing when she disappeared because it has been weeks since she was last seen by close family members, the Post reported.
Police say Young asked Tatum to care for Relisha on Feb. 26.
Young, 27, is residing at a homeless shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital with four of her children and their stepfather, FOX 5 reported.
“Relisha is a sweet, quiet girl,” Jamila Larson, executive director of the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, which runs programs at five D.C. shelters, including the one at D.C. General, told the Washington Post.
About midnight Thursday, authorities issued a bulletin that included pictures of Relisha, Later, police, acting on a tip, went to the Red Roof Inn and found Andrea Tatum’s body in a room. The white truck was in the Inn’s parking lot.
Law enforcement, cited by the Washington Post, said that Young, Relisha’s mother, did not initially consider her child missing and told officials that she had talked to her by phone as recently as Wednesday. But Young also had met with Tatum and asked him to return Relisha, the same officials told the paper. He promised to but did not follow through, the police said.
On Thursday, as police went room to room at the Red Roof Inn, several people staying at the hotel said they had not seen a young girl.