- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

D.C. police on Wednesday launched a two-day search of the grounds of the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington Wednesday, reviving the active investigation into the fate of Relisha Rudd — the little girl who disappeared from the homeless shelter at D.C. General Hospital two years ago.

Police deployed trained divers to search a small body of water on the grounds of the Arboretum, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at a Wednesday morning press conference.

The search, which wrapped up Wednesday without any announcement of results, is expected to last until Thursday evening and will involve canine units as well as 60 officers searching the grounds. Chief Lanier said the body of water being searched is not large, but it will take a long time for the trained divers to comb through.

Television news crews could be seen driving through the streets of the tranquil nature preserve Wednesday afternoon, where the trees, plants and herbs of the Arboretum’s collection were just coming into spring bloom. The 446-acre property, run by the Smithsonian Institution, stretches from New York Avenue to an extensive wooded expanse that runs down to the Anacostia River.

Chief Lanier said a tip from the public kick-started the search, but would not give any further details.

Relisha disappeared from the homeless shelter at the converted D.C. General Hospital in February 2014 when she was 8 years old. At the time she was with Kahlil Malik Tatum, a janitor from the shelter. On February 26, 2014 she was seen with Tatum at the Holiday Inn Express on Bladensburg Avenue near New York Avenue in Northeast, just blocks from the gates of the National Arboretum. She was last seen alive three days later.

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Police weren’t notified that she was missing for nearly three weeks.

Throughout March, D.C. police searched several areas including Kenilworth Park in Northeast, but found no trace of Relisha. Police did, however, find Tatum’s body in the park and concluded that he’d killed himself after killing his wife at the Holiday Inn Express.

City police officials vowed to never stop searching for Relisha, but leads since then have come few and far between. The last official search came in December when 80 officers and cadaver dogs took to a 15-acre construction site not far from the hotel on New York Avenue.

At the time, the site was being developed for a Wal-Mart. Police did not report turning up any significant evidence.

The young girl’s disappearance provided fuel for a campaign to shut down the old D.C. General Hospital site as a homeless shelter. Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced a plan to shutter the shelter while setting up new homeless sites around the city.

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