Problems cited at D.C. shelter where Relisha Rudd lived

Police have been searching for Relisha Rudd. (Courtesy Metropolitan Police Department)

WASHINGTON – There are new, shocking accusations against the D.C. shelter where 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, her mother and brothers were staying before her disappearance. Residents say security procedures are loosely enforced, and they felt uneasy around the janitor who is accused of abducting the girl.

As police resume their search in a Northeast park for the girl whom Chief Cathy Lanier says may have been killed, the D.C. Council Friday will review the safety policies of the shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital.

Residents tell The Washington Post the rules are broken every day. They say curfew isn’t followed, security cameras don’t work, people smoke marijuana outside and visitors don’t need to show identification or sign-in.

Some mothers say they were uneasy around the janitor, Kahlil Tatum, who was friendly with their children. He allegedly would offer young girls money and interact with the families — a violation of the shelter’s safety procedures. But residents say the staff did not intervene.

The Department of Human Services says it and The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, which runs the shelter, have not received any official complaints about Tatum, 51, nor have they received complaints about the shelter’s security.

DHS also tells the Post the staff checks identification and makes sure the cameras are functioning.

A 2012 audit by the D.C. Office of Inspector General found that background checks were not done on some employees. A DHS spokesperson says a previous contractor failed to complete some checks and after an internal review, but the records are now up-to-date.

Rudd was last seen on March 1 with Kahlil Tatum. His whereabouts are not known.

Lanier said Thursday that police have been conducting a “recovery operation” to find the little girl.

Tatum bought contractor bags and spent time at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Lanier said Thursday, raising the prospect that Rudd may be dead.

Police will again search the park on Friday.


Sources tell NBC4 Tatum also bought a shovel and lime.

“We can’t ignore the possibility that he may have killed her,” Lanier said. “We’ve not given up hope that we may still find Relisha alive.”

Rudd became the subject of an Amber Alert after police found Tatum’s wife murdered in a Prince George’s County, Md. motel room.

Police have charged Tatum with murder, and rewards totaling $70,000 have been offered for information leading to his arrest and for information about where Rudd is.

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