Police admit they may never find Relisha Rudd

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- Every year, a couple of thousand children go missing in D.C. Police chief Cathy Lanier says all but a couple of those cases are usually resolved quickly.

But now she is admitting the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha may end among those cases that are never resolved. "I hate to say that," says Lanier, "We're going to continue looking, but it is possible. It is possible."

Chief Lanier says tips continue to come in, about five a day from people who knew Relisha's suspected abductor, Kahlil Tatum. Also, people who know the area, but none so far, have led to the eight-year-old, who lived in a homeless shelter and was last seen alive more than one month ago.

"What really hurt us is getting started three full weeks after she was last seen," says Lanier. "That's a killer."

Also frustrating: Fake tips and hoax Facebook sites, like one posted by someone claiming to be Kahlil Tatum -- and claiming Relisha is really his daughter. "Fortunately we realized right away that it is not real, that somebody is doing it as a hoax," officials said.

Police spent a week searching Kenilworth Park for Relisha's body, and instead found Tatum, dead from an apparent suicide.

Relisha's mother had allowed her little girl to go with the man. Her parents posted pictures of themselves with wads of money in the days after she disappeared and police released a video of Relisha going into a hotel room with Tatum.

But the chief discounted public suspicions that Tatum might have been involved in child porn or child sex trafficking. "That is not something that we believe he was heavily involved in."

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has launched an investigation into whether the city did everything it should have to protect Relisha. And he announced plans to close the D.C. General shelter, and create a better place for D.C.'s homeless families.

But he also suggested Relisha's parents failed her. "Remember parents have a responsibility also," said Gray. "And the mother and grandmother certainly played a role."

Police say they will keep looking for Relisha. But the longer she is gone, the greater the odds we will never find her.


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