According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Missing Person and Unidentified Person Files for the 2020 operational year, many as 365,348 children and juveniles under 18 were reported missing.

More than 133,000 of them are black. Although they are only 14% of the children population in the United States, black children account for more than a third of missing child cases.

Black families are often hesitant to file a missing person report because of the long-standing tension between law enforcement and the black community.

When they do file a report, often the authorities misclassified the disappeared persons as runaways. Therefore no AMBER alert was issued, and no sense of urgency.

It is the story of Relisha Rudd, an 8-year-old black girl who went missing in March 2014 from the homeless shelter at the old DC General Hospital.

No one from her family reported her missing until more than a week later, as they were under the assumption that she was safe with a trusted friend.

Media coverage outside the capital was also scarce at best. More than seven years later, her whereabouts remain unknown.


10 /10 The Mothers

Relisha’s mother, Shamika Young, was born in Washington DC on May 6, 1986, to Melissa Young. The newborn was almost immediately taken under the care of her maternal grandmother, Mary until she was 2-year old.

From that point on, much of her life was pretty chaotic. Melissa ended up taking her five children, including Shamika, to a homeless shelter in Alexandria.

For several months they lived at the top until one day when the mother was arrested for assaulting a police officer. According to Virginia court records, Melissa Young was convicted in 1995.


9 /10 The Children

On her 18th birthday, Shamika signed out of the foster-care system, throughout which she experienced being hospitalized twice for mental health issues, violent threats, and behavioral problems.

About a year and a half later, on October 29, 2005, she gave birth to a baby girl, Relisha Rudd. Irving Rudd was pretty much absent, for he had spent time in prison for the 1992 death of a toddler daughter named Tarricka.

Shamika and Irving split up not long after she gave birth to the first of her three sons. Antonio Wheeler is the father of the two younger brothers.


8 /10 Chaotic Childhood

The four kids were not spared from chaotic childhood either. Social workers investigated Shamika at least three times for abuse and neglect, including reports of injuries to Relisha and one of her brothers.

In one report, the kids were said to have been spotted in sordidly dirty living space with not enough food. But each time, the allegation was dropped.

According to Shamika, the dropped allegations became proof of her competence and that she did everything she could for the well-being of her children.

7 /10 Peak Population

Relisha and her family ended up living at a homeless shelter. She was at the old DC General Hospital when the facility was at its peak population. She was one of about 600 kids living there.

The homeless shelter was previously DC General Hospital before it was closed in 2001.

Even more, than a decade later, the building still felt much like a hospital; inside some rooms, there were still old medical documents. Families stayed in the old hospital rooms.


6 /10 The Janitor

In the homeless shelter, the family became acquainted and good friends with the 51-year old janitor named Kahlil Tatum. Court records show that Shamika referred to the janitor as godfather to Relisha, who called him “Goddaddy.”

Relisha was last seen on March 1, 2014, with Kahlil Tatum on a surveillance video. The camera captured the moment they were walking the halls of the shelter.

No one has ever since her since. It was not until 18 days later that Relisha was reported missing.


5 /10 18 Days Unaccounted For

There was no AMBER alert issued for Relisha Rudd until March 18. Between those dates were many days unaccounted for.

When she had missed her classes for several days, the school did not immediately have a suspicion of any sort because her absence came with written notes; some of those notes were from one Dr. Tatum.

Everyone in the shelter knew that Tatum was not a doctor. No one realized something went wrong to make things worse until a social worker from Relisha’s school came to the shelter to check on her.


4 /10 Dr. Tatum Who

Shamika also said Relisha was in the care of a doctor, most likely referring to Kahlil Tatum. LaBoné Workman, a social worker from Payne Elementary School, visited the shelter to get another doctor’s note.

Upon arrival, Workman asked to see Dr. Tatum, but no one seemed to know who he was talking about. The security guard at the door didn’t see any doctor of that name in the shelter.

The case manager also appeared to be confused about it. Workman started to sense many wrong things about the situation.

3 /10 Amber Alert

There was only one Tatum working at the shelter. He was a janitor, not a doctor. Workman’s inquiry into Relisha’s reported illness immediately triggered a chain reaction.

A new AMBER alert finally was issued for the girl who at that time had been missing for long 18 days. The local and federal investigation was immediately underway.

Kahlil Tatum became a primary suspect in the disappearance of Relisha Rudd. Still, the frantic search for the missing second-grader received little attention from the national media.

2 /10 Murder Suspect

Washington DC police got involved in the investigation starting on March 19.

At that point, authorities knew very little about the missing person’s background, except that she lived with her family in an abandoned public hospital turned shelter at an unfamiliar corner in the capital city of the United States.

Just hours after the investigation began, police announced they had found the body of Andrea Tatum, the janitor’s wife, in a room at an Oxon Hill motel.

The couple’s car was abandoned in the parking lot. The husband now had an outstanding arrest warrant for her murder.


1 /10 Still Missing

Before the police could take Kahlil Tatum into custody about the death of his wife and the disappearance of Relisha Rudd, he was also found dead in Kenilworth Park of an apparent suicide on March 31.

Relisha disappeared when she was eight and would now be 15-year-old. Many fear she is dead, but no one knows for sure.

Community members and organizations are still working to keep news of her disappearance in the media circulation, passing out flyers and advertising $50,000 reward for information.

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