No evidence found during search for Relisha Rudd in DC park; wil - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

No evidence found during search for Relisha Rudd in DC park; will resume Friday morning

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DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier briefs reporters on the search for Relisha Rudd on Thursday. DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier briefs reporters on the search for Relisha Rudd on Thursday.

D.C. police say they have suspended the search for missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd at a D.C. park for the evening.

Authorities spent Thursday searching for the missing girl at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Northeast D.C. Police say no evidence has been located in the search so far. The search will resume Friday morning and police is expected to provide an update midday on Friday.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said during a Thursday news conference that the search for Rudd is a "recovery operation."

Lanier also released new information about the date the little girl was last seen.

An Amber Alert was issued for Relisha last week. According to Lanier, Relisha was last seen on March 1 in the District with Kahlil Tatum, the man police believe abducted her. Lanier said that is the last time they can confirm that Relisha was seen alive, and at that time, she was with Tatum with permission from her mother.

On March 2, Lanier said Tatum, 51, purchased a carton of 43-gallon self-tying black trash bags, and later was in the area of the aquatic gardens in Kenilworth Park for a period of time. After that, Lanier said Tatum was going to work and was seen in D.C. through March 20, but Relisha was not seen.

Lanier said based on this information, the search for Relisha in the park is a recovery operation, but they're still following up on other tips. Lanier said they're not ruling anything out until she is found.

"We have not given up hope that we may still find Relisha alive," Lanier said.

After Tatum's wife was found dead in a Maryland motel room on March 20, there have been no confirmed sightings of him.

Earlier in the day, an FBI spokesperson confirmed that they were assisting other agencies in the search, and they're following up on all possible leads. FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick was at Kenilworth Park while the search was underway. By 10:45 a.m., the FBI had left the scene, and D.C. police remained there.

Tatum was the janitor in the homeless shelter where Rudd had been staying with her mother.

The search area is about four miles from the shelter.

Tatum is already charged with killing his wife, 51-year-old Andrea Tatum, whose body was found in a motel room in Oxon Hill, Md. Officers found her body while they were searching for Relisha. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he is charged with first-degree murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Tatum was added to the FBI's Most Wanted List on Wednesday. The FBI also released video to the public on Tuesday showing Tatum and Relisha walking down the hallway of a northeast D.C. hotel on February 26.

In Atlanta, digital billboards are flashing descriptions of Tatum, who is believed to have ties to that area.

On Wednesday, D.C. officials announced that Tatum had posed as Relisha's doctor, taking calls from her elementary school teacher and telling them the little girl was sick. Officials familiar with the investigation say Rudd's mother, grandmother and Tatum were all working together in an effort to fool teachers and administrators at Payne Elementary School into believing the 8-year-old was not coming to school because she was sick.

“He basically assured the school the child had been ill and gave some detailed information around that,” said Bebe Otero, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.

Administration officials not authorized to speak on the record said Rudd’s grandmother and mother gave Tatum's phone number to the school claiming he was the girl’s doctor.

A total reward of $70,000 is currently being offered for information leading to Tatum's arrest and conviction, and for locating Relisha. The FBI offered a reward of up to $25,000 for Relisha's location and return, and a separate reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to Tatum's arrest. The Prince George's County Police Department has also offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to Tatum's arrest and indictment.

Tatum is described as a black man, 5'7" tall and weighing about 170 pounds.  He has a distinctive tattoo on his left upper arm.  He is believed to be traveling with Relisha, who is described as a black girl, weighing about 70 to 80 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion.

If you see Tatum or Relisha, call 911 immediately.  You can also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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