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Cops: Janitor suspected in D.C. abduction broke shelter rules

Relisha Rudd, inset, and the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in D.C. where police are focusing their search efforts. FBI

WASHINGTON - The janitor suspected of abducting an 8-year-old Washington, D.C. girl who was staying at the homeless shelter where he worked, had contact with several other young girls at the shelter, which is prohibited under the facility's rules, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Friday, according to the Washington Post.

Lanier reportedly would not detail the type of contact that Kahlil Malik Tatum, 51, had with the girls but said police are concerned because Tatum is suspected of abducting 8-year-old Relisha Rudd and is also suspected of killing his wife.

The police chief said authorities are speaking with the girls whom Tatum is believed to have had contact with as part of their investigation.

Lanier said Thursday that Relisha was last seen March 1 in D.C. with Tatum and the following day, Tatum was seen purchasing "contractor-sized trash bags" at a local store in D.C. Following that purchase, Lanier said, Tatum stayed in the area of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in D.C. for a period of time.

Authorities were continuing to search the Aquatic Gardens Friday.

"We cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her," Lanier said Thursday. She categorized the search efforts as a "recovery mission."

Relisha was only reported missing last week after her school became suspicious of her repeated absences, reports CBS D.C.

During the investigation into her disappearance, police found Tatum's wife, 51-year-old Andrea Tatum, shot to death in a Maryland motel room.

The FBI is also involved in the investigation and the agency added Tatum to their "Most Wanted" list on Wednesday.

Police have said that Relisha's mother allowed Tatum to take her daughter home on Feb. 26 and that was the last time she saw her.

When school officials at Relisha's school first became suspicious of her absences, the 8-year-old's mother provided them with the name and phone number for a doctor who could account for the girl's absences, D.C. Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Beatriz Otero told CBS D.C.

According to Otero, calls to the doctor - believed to be Tatum - prevented officials from becoming immediately suspicious. But when the absences continued, school officials visited the shelter where Relisha and her family had been staying and it was at that time that they realized something was wrong, reports the station.

Lanier would not say whether charges will be filed against Relisha's mother.

  • Stephanie Slifer

    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

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