The search for Relisha Rudd could have a new development as police in Washington. D.C., have launched a new effort to send divers into water areas around the National Arboretum in the city’s northeast side.
On Wednesday morning, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that divers would search a number of different areas and that the investigation would not stop until all leads were followed, the Washington Post reported. This week’s efforts will involve K-9 units and 60 different personnel, she added.
Rudd was 8-years-old when she disappeared more than two years ago with the janitor of a D.C. homeless shelter where the girl was living with her family. She was seen with the man, Kahlil Malik Tatum, walking down the hallway of a Holiday Inn Express.
Tatum 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 later found that Tatum posed as Relisha’s doctor, telling school officials that she would be absent for several days.
As investigators began circling in on Tatum, they found his wife shot to death and they issued a warrant for his arrest. Tatum later committed suicide in a park where police believe Rudd’s body may have been hidden, his death leaving investigators otherwise empty about clues to her whereabouts.
There have been several other efforts to search for Relisha Rudd in the past few months, including a December search on the grounds of a construction site near the hotel where she was last seen alive.
In June of last year, investigators believed they found a major break in the search for Relisha Rudd when search crews combing the Anacostia River uncovered a bag that held a container of black garbage bags, which investigators believe may have been used to hide Rudd’s body.
“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.
Last year’s effort to find Rudd was pushed by friends and family. Brenda Brown, a close friend of the Rudd family, organized a volunteer effort to search the park. During that search, a cadaver dog led crews to the water’s edge, which prompted divers to take a closer took and ultimately locate the black bag.
But the trail grew cold from there.
“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.
Lanier did not say what prompted this week’s development in the search for Relisha Rudd. She did note that the 400-acre property would be a difficult search environment but said crews were determined to do all they could to find the girl.
“We need to find her,” she said of Relisha. “We just can’t let this go unresolved. It was just so foul, and no one has been held accountable.”
Search crews spent Wednesday at the Arboretum before concluding for the day. They will pick up the search for Rudd on Thursday.
Some family members are still holding out hope that the search for Relisha Rudd could end up finding the girl alive. Her mother, Shamika Young, has maintained her belief that Relisha is still alive and in February marked the two-year anniversary of her disappearance by saying that she still has “hope and faith that she’ll return one day.”
[Image via Rudd family]