Update: Male Body Found in Search of Relisha Rudd
More details have emerged about the male body found in a D.C. park during the search for 8-year-old Relisha Rudd.
On Monday, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the body has been “tentatively identified” as that of 51-year-old Kahlil Malik Tatum, the janitor at the homeless shelter where Relisha lived with her mother.
“It appears the person we found here today was, in fact, Mr. Tatum, and it does still appear at this point that this was a suicide,” Lanier told a news conference at the park.
“This discovery was a shock for us,” Lanier said. “We were very focused on finding Relisha and that’s what we came here for. … We’re not finished. That search is continuing.”
Investigators are hopeful Relisha is still alive, but believe Tatum may have killed the young girl.
Additional public documents and reports reveal Relisha’s mother, Shamika Taylor, allowed her daughter to go on numerous outings with Tatum. Residents of the homeless shelter have told the Washington Post Tatum often offered gifts to the girls in the shelter, but spent a lot of time with Relisha.
Police are unsure whether the body found belongs to Tatum, but the janitor is also wanted for the death of his wife on March 20. Police say Tatum and his wife checked in at the Red Roof Inn in Oxon Hill where he allegedly shot her in the head.
According to Lanier, the last time Tatum and Relisha were seen together was on March 1, the day she went missing. Tatum’s family home is a block from the park where police are currently searching, which runs along the Anacostia River near the D.C.-Maryland border.