Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) drew applause at a news conference this week when, in announcing her regulations to stop a planned federal shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in the city, she said: “We know when facilities are too big to support children, okay? And I don’t need to remind anyone we don’t know where Relisha Rudd is — and her parent was with her.”
That witty riposte might have landed a blow on the chin of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But it was a cheap shot that had the added feature of being horribly wrong.
Relisha Rudd was living with her mother and three brothers in a city shelter for homeless families at the former D.C. General Hospital when she went missing in 2014. She was 8 years old.
Relisha reportedly was last seen March 1 of that year. On Feb. 26, her mother, Shamika Young, had allowed her to leave D.C. General with Kahlil Tatum, a 51-year-old custodian at the shelter who had a felony record. Shamika Young had previously allowed Tatum, whom she said she had met in 2005, to take Relisha for sleepovers at his house and on outings to the movies and the mall. Relisha would often come back to the shelter with a new outfit or a manicure, The Post reported; for Christmas, he bought her a tablet device.
Nobody knew what was going on as Relisha’s absences from Payne Elementary School began mounting up. On March 19, police started looking for Relisha after a social worker from Payne showed up at the shelter looking for her.
The social worker discovered the truth about Tatum, who had been listed on school records as Relisha’s doctor.
No one, not Relisha’s mother or anyone from the staff of D.C. General, had reported her missing.
“. . . her parent was with her”?
On March 20, police found Tatum’s wife, Andrea Tatum, face down on a motel bed in Oxon Hill, Md., shot in the head. Eleven days later, on March 31, searchers found Khalil Tatum’s body in a Northeast D.C. park shed, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Relisha was not found, and she is still missing.
Bowser should get the story straight: Relisha Rudd was not with her parent. That little girl was last seen with the man who took her.