A national missing persons organization in Washington, D.C. thinks that a missing 8-year-old girl could have been sold into a human trafficking network.
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A national missing persons organization in Washington, D.C. thinks that a missing 8-year-old girl could have been sold into a human trafficking network.
Relisha Rudd was last seen on March 1. According to police, Relisha's mother allowed Kahlil Tatum, the janitor at the homeless shelter where the 8-year-old lived with her mother and step-father, to take her.
The Black and Missing Foundation has been assisting the Metropolitan Police Department in the search for Relisha.
More than 200,000 persons of color were reported missing in the U.S. last year, according to the Black and Missing Foundation.
"Sadly, this is an everyday occurrence," said Natalie Wilson.
This year, Relisha will be added to the list of people reported missing.
"I'm pulling at everything in me and there's nothing in my gut that tells me we're in a recovery operation. I feel that we're searching for a live person," said Derrica Wilson, a former police officer.
She is convinced Relisha could be anywhere - still alive, but not well.
"This case has really rocked me to the core. I personally feel that this little girl was sold. I think her mother sold her to Tatum and I think Tatum has sold her in this world wide industry of trafficking," said the former officer.
Derrica and her sister Natalie Wilson founded the Black and Missing Foundation in an effort to bring awareness to missing persons of color, a segment of the missing persons population they say too often goes unnoticed. But, not Relisha.
"Compared to other cases, Relisha's case has gotten quite a bit of media coverage," said Natalie Wilson.
This could the case for various, including the fact that Relisha is so young, and a cute kid who was seemingly handed over to her abductor by her own mother.
"We're holding on to hope that she is alive and somewhere and we need to bring her home," added Derrica.
The sisters stress that the search for Relisha needs to expand far beyond D.C. and include more than just police.
"She could be anywhere and we need to help find her. We would like the public to get involved. Again, somebody knows something," pointed out Natalie.
They added that it's important to realize Relisha's appearance may very well have been changed, so, the pictures we've seen in recent weeks may not be exactly what we should be looking for.
Natalie Wilson said Relisha could have shorter hair or may be dressed like a little boy, so it's important take an extra look at every child you come across.