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Relisha Rudd, missing D.C. girl, feared dead by police

Relisha Rudd, 8, left, and her suspected abductor Kahlil Malik Tatum. Tatum was found dead in a Washington park. CBS DC

WASHINGTON - The investigation into the disappearance of Relisha Rudd, a missing 8-year-old Wash., D.C. girl, is "best described as a recovery operation," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Thursday, adding that authorities have not given up hope that the girl could be found alive.

Lanier said during a news conference that Relisha was last seen March 1 in D.C. with Kahlil Malik Tatum, a 51-year-old man who has been named as a suspect in her abduction. On March 2, Tatum was seen purchasing "contractor-sized trash bags" at a local store in D.C. and following that purchase, he stayed in the area of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in D.C. for a period of time, the police chief said.

Authorities were searching the Aquatic Gardens on Thursday.

"We cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her," Lanier said.

Tatum, who worked as a janitor at a homeless shelter where Relisha and her mother had been staying, is charged with murdering his wife, 51-year-old Andrea Tatum. She was found shot to death in a Maryland motel room last week by authorities investigating Relisha's disappearance.

The FBI is involved in the investigation and the agency added Tatum to their "Most Wanted" list on Wednesday, reports CBS D.C.

Digital billboards displaying photographs of Relisha and Tatum have been posted along roadways from Maryland to Georgia, according to the Associated Press.

Federal authorities say Tatum should be considered armed and dangerous. An Amber Alert remains in effect for the 8-year-old.

According to CBS D.C., Relisha was only reported missing last week after her school became suspicious of her repeated absences. When asked Thursday whether Relisha's mother could also face charges in her disappearance, Lanier said the investigation is ongoing and that authorities have not ruled out filing more charges.

The FBI is offering up to a $25,000 reward for information leading to the location and return of Relisha. They are also offering a separate reward of $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of Tatum.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Relisha or Tatum is asked to call local law enforcement or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

  • Stephanie Slifer On Twitter»

    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

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