A volunteer dive team searched a Washington, D.C., river Saturday in hopes of finding new clues to the whereabouts of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, vowing that she “can be found” more than a year after disappearing from a homeless shelter.
Kenilworth Park has become the main focus of the search after the man Relisha was last seen with, Khalil Tatum, was found dead there from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in March 2014.
"I don't care what happened. I only care about finding Relisha. I know she can be found," Brenda Brown, a friend of Rudd's family, told MyFoxDC.com.
Brown asked the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit to come to D.C. and search the Anacostia River, which runs through the park, for any clues on Rudd’s location.
Divers found a plastic bag and handed it over to police for processing, although it was not immediately clear if the bag has any connection to the case, NBC Washington reports.
Tatum was a janitor at the city homeless shelter where Relisha had been living with her family. The girl was last seen with Tatum on March 1, 2014. Her mother had given permission for Relisha to be with Tatum.
Police started searching for Relisha on March 19 following repeated absences from school. The next day, Tatum's wife was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in a Red Roof Inn motel room in Oxon Hill, Md. Prince George's County Police had issued a warrant for Tatum's arrest in connection with the death of his wife.
The day after Relisha was last seen, police say Tatum bought a container of heavy-duty trash bags, and was in Kenilworth Park for a period of time. After that, Tatum was going to work and was seen in D.C. through March 20, but Relisha was not seen.
City officials told Fox 5 at the time that Tatum was posing as Relisha’s doctor and took calls from her elementary school teacher to confirm that she was sick.
Officials familiar with the case added that Relisha’s mother and grandmother also were working with Tatum to fool teachers about Relisha’s health.
Tatum, who was put on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, had already been charged with killing his wife.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.