D.C. police were expected to resume a foot search in a 700-acre city park for a missing 8-year-old girl on Monday after rain delayed their efforts through the weekend.
But the weather didn’t stop teams of divers from exploring the waters of the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Northeast over the weekend for clues to the whereabouts of Relisha Rudd, who was last seen March 1.
Police on Friday said a janitor at the city’s homeless shelter who was given custody of the girl had contact with as many as four other girls who stayed at the shelter.
“We are continuing to investigate the nature of those contacts. We do know that there was some other contact with other young girls at the shelter,” Chief Lanier said.
Police descended on the park Thursday after information led them to believe Mr. Tatum had gone to the area shortly after purchasing a carton of large 42-gallon garbage bags the day after Relisha was last seen.
In the time since the girl’s disappearance, police in neighboring Prince George’s County have also charged Mr. Tatum with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife.
Police began investigating Relisha’s disappearance on March 19, after authorities reported she missed more than 30 days of school. She and her family lived in the D.C. General Family Emergency Shelter for the homeless in the months leading up to her disappearance. At some point last month, the girl’s mother made arrangements with Mr. Tatum for the man to care for Relisha, police said. Surveillance video from a D.C. Holiday Inn Express shows Mr. Tatum and Relisha walking together through the hallway of the hotel on Feb. 26.
Prince George’s County police on March 20 found Mr. Tatum’s wife, Andrea Tatum, dead inside an Oxon Hill hotel room with a gunshot wound to the head. Friends of the couple were with them at the hotel the night before, though those individuals left the area overnight, police said.
Chief Lanier reiterated Friday that the last time investigators were able to confirm a sighting of Relisha was March 1. Other reported accounts state that the girl may have been seen at school on March 5 and 7, but Chief Lanier said the discrepancy in dates did not appear to be an intentional effort to mislead investigators.
“It is not because anyone tried to initially deceive us or tried to lead us in the wrong direction,” she said. “It is very common when interviewing multiple people about incidents that happened two to three weeks ago.”
Police are reviewing evidence that was taken out of the park since the search began. Chief Lanier said by next week investigators hope to be able to organize search efforts with community groups who have expressed interest in helping with case.
“We are discouraged at times by the amount of time she has been missing and some of the things we have discovered,” Chief Lanier said. “But we are hopeful that we may still find her alive.”