How is the janitor at a homeless shelter allowed to take home 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, who was living at the shelter? Relisha's family says the janitor earned their trust.
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Relisha Rudd and Kahlil Tatum's relationship began in the D.C. General homeless shelter cafeteria.
Relisha's mother and grandmother say the 8-year-old, who has been missing for more than a month, and her siblings used to wake up and head to the cafeteria for breakfast.
"If the parents are not with the kids when they go to the cafeteria they're not going to feed them because a lot of times for breakfast the food is hot. I understand that rule," said Melissa Young, Relisha's grandmother. She said, that's when Tatum, a janitor at the shelter, intervened.
"When Mr. Tatum saw that the kids were not getting fed, he took it upon himself to start feeding Shamika's four kids," said Young.
When Melissa Young began to notice Tatum hanging around Relisha, she asked her daughter, Shamika, who he was.
"Shamika said, 'mom that's Mr. Tatum.' I said, 'That's not going to look right for your daughter to go.' She said, 'mom, she is going to play with the grand daughter. It's fine.' Every time my grand daughter, Relisha, came back, she tell me, 'I had fun with Mr. Tatum's granddaughter. I want to go back,'" explained Melissa Young.
Young added that all the attention Tatum was paying to Shamika's children was something the family had grown used to.
"People just love Shamika's kids. So, it wasn't strange for us to see that somebody was doing something in their time of need," said Young.
The more Tatum did for the family, the more the family says they trusted him.
"I have been around this man, if he's getting off work and he's in his car and sees me walking, he would pick me up and give me a ride. I would get in this man's car by myself and I didn't get no uncomfortable feeling," admitted Young.
That's why, she said, they allowed Tatum to take Relisha, but, she added, it was never supposed to be permanent.
"Shamika never made no type of deals with him - force her daughter. She never exchanged her daughter for nothing. She never sold her daughter to him," said Young.
WUSA9 asked Shamika Young if she blames Tatum for anything that has happened over the last few weeks, with Regards to her missing daughter.
Shamika Young answered, "I choose not to answer that - those questions. I can't answer those questions."