CRIME

Relisha Rudd: FBI search winds down for missing D.C. girl

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(WJLA) - On the final day of the massive organized police search of Kenilworth Park for missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, there were still no signs of the little girl -- despite Monday’s discovery of her alleged abductor Kahlil Tatum’s decomposing body in a shed nearby. The cause of death was reportedly a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Meanwhile, Rudd’s grandmother continues to hold on to hope:

“I still don't believe that he may have harmed her or killed her; I don't want to believe that in no type of way," said Melissa Young. "You can say I am in denial, but I am not going to believe until I actually see a body that he actually killed my granddaughter."

Police have said that the last time anyone saw the missing girl alive was March 1 – over a month ago. She was out of school for more than 30 days, and was seen on hotel surveillance video at the end of February with Tatum, who worked as a janitor at the homeless shelter where Rudd and her mother lived.

Her mother told police she allowed her daughter to leave the shelter with Tatum, as she often spent weeks at a time with the man they say they trusted.

After authorities got involved in the girl’s disappearance, P.G. County Police said that Tatum killed his wife in an Oxon Hill hotel on March 21.

Various court records we obtained on Wednesday revealed that the couple legally separated in February. Other documents show that Relisha’s biological father tried twice in 2012 to get visitation and then sole custody of her.

Now, she is suddenly gone without a trace.

The MPD held a press conference at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, where they confirmed that they will continue searching until nightfall.

The FBI’s Tim Gallagher stated that investigators are still offering a reward of $25,000 for any information leading to the discovery of Relisha Rudd.

“We are receiving some leads,” Gallagher said. “But we are not getting as many as we have been.”

Once the search comes to an end at the D.C. park, the MPD and the FBI will follow the leads that they do have, and continue on in their search for the missing girl.

"I walk on hope and faith that she will return home, that once again I will see her bright smiling face because right now that is what I am missing," said Melissa Young.

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