Relisha Rudd and Khalil Tatum

Relisha Rudd and Khalil Tatum (Photo source: DC Metro Police)

Black missing girls have taken center stage on social media because of a viral tweet that was later proved to be inaccurate. It all centered on the city of Washington, D.C., and the fake story of 14 girls who went missing in a 24-hour period from one area. Even though that story was false, it raised awareness of the issue of missing Black girls. However, there is one little girl who should still remain in your minds, her name is Relisha Rudd and she went missing in 2014.

Relisha lived with her drug-addicted mother and two brothers at the D.C. General Shelter. The shelter itself is a former hospital that was converted into a shelter because of the serious issues of homeless families in the nation’s capitol. But according to residents, the facility is far from safe. Residents have to deal with vagrancy, drug users and a general atmosphere of unpleasantness, made even worse if you were a child like Relisha. With few resources and no real positive role models, Relisha was an easy target for shelter janitor Khalil Tatum. According to the residents, Tatum would break shelter rules by socially interacting with residents, while staff members did nothing. One resident, Yolanda Manning, was quoted as stating that Tatum tried to give her daughter money during a birthday party. Per Manning, “he would often give money to little girls and never to the boys.” This was all done in plain view of staff according to several residents. Tatum befriended Relisha’s mother, Shamika Young, and easily was able to get the child away from the shelter. He took her to see Disney on Ice, bought her a tablet computer and Young even allowed her daughter to spend the night away from the shelter allegedly with Tatum and his granddaughter.

Tatum exhibited all the classic signs of a predator but it went unnoticed or was ignored not only by staff at the shelter but also Relisha’s mother. But in February Relisha had not been to school in almost two weeks while she was with Tatum. When school officials attempted to find out why the child had not been to school in almost two weeks a disturbing deception took place. Young allegedly told the school that her daughter was sick and under the care of a physician. That’s when Relisha’s grandmother, Melissa Young, came to the school and presented a piece of paper with the name “Dr. Tatum” and a phone number. Young explained that her granddaughter suffered from intense headaches and seizures.  When the school called the number, a man whom they assumed was Tatum answered. The caller pretended to be a doctor and the school wanted written proof of Relisha’s treatment. In response, he told the school administrator to drop off the form at the D.C. General Shelter. The school official realized something was wrong and called the police.

Initially, her mother refused to allow an Amber Alert to be issued for her missing daughter. It was only after Tatum’s wife, Andrea Tatum, was found dead with a bullet to the head in a hotel room that the Amber Alert was issued. An intense search was launched for the Relisha and Tatum and during the manhunt images emerged of the pair in a hotel hallway from a security camera. In March 2014 Tatum was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic, in Washington, D.C. Tatum was spotted earlier purchasing heavy duty trash bags, a shovel and a bag of quick lime. This indicated to homicide investigators that Tatum had a “burial kit’’ and that Relisha might be dead. A few days’ later, police announced that the search for 8-year-old Relisha Rudd was being called a recovery operation and indicated the child might be dead.

To this day the case of Relisha Rudd is still open and there is no information on whether the child is alive, perhaps being trafficked, or lying in a grave. Relisha is just one of many missing Black girls in America.

 

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.

  • SrAgri

    “…the fake story of 14 girls who went missing in a 24-hour period from one area. Even though that story was false, it raised awareness of the issue of missing Black girls.”

    I applaud you using this forum to help Ms. Rudd, but this statement gives complicit support to the whole fake news story about the rash of missing black girls in DC.

    The “missing black girl scandal” is a prime example of dishonest race-baiting. Chanel Dickerson encouraged this fabrication to promote herself. A bunch of self-important “celebrities” who probably couldn’t find Washington DC on a map have decided to weigh in on this subject and have whipped everyone into a frenzy. Like most fake news stories, most people still believe that there is some sort of a cover-up.

    What most people don’t realize is that the population of the nation’s capital does not reflect the population of the nation. Washington DC is 50% black and 9% Hispanic. Only 39% of the residents are white. The majority of missing person cases will be persons of color.

    Since 2012, about 200 juveniles are reported missing each month in DC. In other words, that’s about 7 juveniles (both boys and girls of all races) go missing each day. By far, the vast majority of missing juveniles, regardless of race, have run away from home. They usually aren’t found, but either return on their own or show up at a friend or relative’s home, hence the 95% success rate so far this year.

    If you factor in census data and assume that girls go missing at about the same rate as boys, in two months, about 120 black or latina girls would be expected to go missing. In the same two months, about 80 white girls would be expected to go missing, based directly on population and not considering any socio-economic factors.

    • Jason

      You talk about a fake story about missing girls, but do you know where we can find Relisha Rudd. The fact is we need to know where she is and any other young people. It is sad how quickly your types are to dismiss the greater issue due to a sad story posted by some idiot.

      • SrAgri

        What is the “greater issue” that ‘my type’ is dismissing? Missing children or teens is an issue, regardless of race.

        Fake news distracts from real news. People will dismiss Relisha Rudd’s story because they have some conspiracy theory notion that white people are kidnapping all the young black girls in DC.

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  • Bigg_inDC

    Thank you for sharing Relisha Rudd’s story.

  • nosey rosy

    i remember when i first read about her , my heart sinked , of all the stories i heard , of children abuctions this one hit me hard, i cant fantom a mother lieing like that at a crucial moment , and you know he gave her some drugs to get that child , the homeless shelter need to be sued cause they are clearly negligent in the way they ok;d him to take that baby away from that place , he was a pervert , im sure they knew he was breaking the most dangerous rules , they too knew the child was not with the mother and was probably told by the mother that she let her stay with the grand mother , thank god for the grandmother wise enough to see that was a lie , and the schools calling that man to see who he was if they had not waited til he killed his own wife which was about to out him. im sure the wife start asking him where did he get that child , and he killed her too .. he was a munster glad he killed his dam self instead of that family going thru pure hell , prosececuting him, that little girl is gone he killed her i bet you and he drove far outside of town and cemented that body so it could be dug up by animals thats why he put it in a bag, i cant imagine what sufffering that poor child endured , i know god is good and he didnt let her suffer ,, i pray to god she didnt suffer , thats all we can do lord have mercy smh

  • DaMaJo

    Three brothers actually…

  • Michelle Wilson

    This story hunted me for so long but in the case of this little angel l hope she didn’t suffer in pain what ever happened to her

  • HelenL1

    Wow this poor kid was doomed in so many ways. If she is alive, she’s living in hell, pretty much which seems to be her whole little life. Horrific.