Police chief: Adult body found in search for missing DC girl

Metropolitan Police Dept. via CBS D.C.

Police have found an unidentified male body in the search for missing Washington, D.C. girl Relisha Rudd, Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

The body was found in Northeast Washington's Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, where authorities began searching for Rudd last Thursday, Lanier said.

Rudd, 8, was last seen March 1. The man under investigation in her disappearance -- Kahlil Tatum, 51 - has been charged in his wife's murder after the woman's body was discovered in a Maryland motel room, reported CBS DC.

Lanier said the cause of death of the man appeared to be suicide, and authorities may be able to identify him later Monday afternoon. She couldn't speak as to whether the body may be Tatum.

The search for Relisha, she said, was continuing.

"There is still a lot of work to be done - we're not finished here," Lanier said.

Officers from multiple agencies and jurisdictions have been searching 700-acre park since last week, when they learned that Tatum spent time at the park, reports WUSA9. Sources told the station Tatum bought a shovel and lime as well as extra large garbage bags the day after Rudd's disappearance before spending hours there.

According to CBS DC, Relisha had been staying at the D.C. General Family Shelter - where Kahlil Tatum worked as a janitor - with her mother and stepfather for a year and a half. Authorities said Relisha and her family knew Tatum, 51, prior to the girl's disappearance.

Lanier said last week that the search for Relisha is "best described as a recovery operation," but added that authorities haven't given up hope that she might still be alive.

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

Kahlil Tatum remains on the FBI's Most Wanted list for the murder of his wife, and Lanier has said that he may still be in the Metro Washington area.

Federal authorities say Tatum should be considered armed and dangerous.

Lanier described the search as "very methodical and technical in nature." Officials, she said, have employed divers to search bodies of water and underwater cameras to search wells, along with cadaver dogs, search dogs, walking crews and aerial surveillance.

The search will go on "probably for a few more days," Lanier said.

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for's Crimesider.