Relisha Rudd has been missing for more than a year, but the search for the Washington, D.C. girl may have just gotten a major break.
This week, search crews combing the Anacostia River uncovered a bag that may have important clues about the 8-year-old’s resting place.
Rudd’s suspected killer, Kahlil Tatum, committed suicide in a park near the river. Tatum was last seen with Relisha in the park in 2014.
Tatum worked as a janitor at the homeless shelter where Relisha lived with her family. He had permission from the girl’s family to be with her, but after Relisha was absent from school for several days, suspicions began to arise. Police would later say that Tatum was posing as Relisha’s doctor for school officials, telling them about her absence.
The next day, Tatum’s wife was found shot to death, and police issued a search warrant for Tatum’s arrest. He would later commit suicide, and the search for the still-missing Rudd went cold.
But now, there may be a major break in the search. Police said Tatum purchased a container of black garbage bags, which they believe may have been used to dispose of her body.
Search crews said they found a bag during their search, but have not yet said what it contained.
“I was shocked that it was right there,” said Jerry Boylan, captain of the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit.
“Looked like someone had something in a bag they wanted to sink,” Boylan added.
Family members desperate for a break in the case say they have not lost hope on finding Relisha Rudd.
“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 My Fox DC.
Brown played a major role in the search this weekend. With resources running low for officials search efforts, she organized a volunteer team to search the park last year. During that search, a cadaver dog led search crews to the water’s edge, leading to this weekend’s follow-up search.
“We have got to do it; we would be remiss to ignore what this dog detected,” she said.
Family members came to watch the search, including Rudd’s grandmother, Melissa Young.
“Whether it’s home where I can see her smile talk or whether it’s sad anywhere, I have to help my daughter make the arrangements. I just need my closure. I just want my baby home,” she said.
Family members said they plan on keeping up the search for Relisha Rudd until the missing girl is found.
[Image via Rudd family]