Suspect in Relisha Rudd case posed as girl's doctor, authorities say

Washington D.C. officials said Wednesday that the man suspected of abducting an 8-year-old girl posed as her doctor and took calls from her elementary school teacher to confirm she was sick.

Officials familiar with the investigation told that Relisha Rudd's mother, grandmother and Kahlil Tatum, the man suspected of abducting the girl, were all working together in an effort to fool teachers and administrators at Payne Elementary School into believing the 8-year-old was not coming to school because she was sick.

“He basically assured the school the child had been ill and gave some detailed information around that,” said Bebe Otero, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.

Tatum worked as a janitor in the homeless shelter where Rudd had been staying with her mother.

Administration officials not authorized to speak on the record said Rudd’s grandmother and mother gave Tatum's phone number to the school claiming he was the girl’s doctor.

Rudd and her family were last seen by a social worker on February 26 and the last time anyone saw the girl at school was on March 7.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said city agencies were very familiar with Rudd’s family.

“I certainly did read a chronology where the DCPS folks were involved with the mother trying to find why the child hadn’t been to school and they were told that the child was sick,” said Gray.

Back at the shelter where Rudd had been living with her family, recruits from the District's police academy along with investigators with the FBI conducted another search.

"We've been back here probably a half a dozen times and we’re going to keep coming back until we locate Relisha," said D.C. Police Commander Daniel Hickson. "We're going to continue to come back to see if we missed somebody else who might be able to tell us something."

Also at the mayor’s news conference, Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, defended the way D.C. police have handled the Amber Alert and the search for Rudd.

"Once we established that there had been a crime committed, and once we were able to establish that Mr. Tatum was a person of interest in Prince George's County, then that gave us the predicate that we needed to move to the next level,” said Quander. “So that's when we issued the Amber Alert."

But the initial Amber Alert contained no photographs of Tatum and the ones put out on the D.C. police Twitter account failed to include his name.

City officials also say when police initially talked to Rudd’s mother at the shelter, they wanted to issue the Amber Alert on March 19. However, Rudd’s mother resisted and did not want to give her permission. The Amber Alert was not put out until the next day.

In a phone interview with WTTG-TV, Rudd's mother said the city had already taken her other children away from her, but would not explain why.

A police report also says an investigator spoke with Rudd's aunt, who said she spoke with the 8-year-old twice on the phone last Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the FBI added Tatum to their list of most wanted fugitives.

On Tuesday, the FBI released video to the public on Tuesday showing Tatum with Rudd walking down the hallway of a Northeast D.C. hotel on February 26. Prince George's County police have also increased the reward to $50,000 for information on the missing girl and Tatum.

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