Sarah Anne Hughes
October 30, 2014
D.C. police officers and volunteers from a group dedicated to publicizing cases of missing people of color gathered in three city locations last evening to search for information — any information — that could lead to Relisha Rudd.
Wednesday marked Rudd’s ninth birthday, celebrated without her eight months after she disappeared while living at the city’s family homeless shelter. Officers and detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department and volunteers from the Black and Missing Foundation handed out flyers at the D.C. General shelter, nearby Stadium Armory Metro station and at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE, located near a hotel where Rudd was last seen with a shelter janitor. Kahlil Tatum was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after Rudd’s disappearance was publicized, a critical effort delayed by her family who withheld information from school officials.
Natalie Wilson and Derrica Wilson, co-founders of Black and Missing, were stationed outside the Metro, handing out flyers to commuters who nodded with recognition.
“People in this community recognize so many people failed her,” Derrica Wilson said. “They all want to be part of helping to make a difference and bringing her home and making sure that this doesn’t happen to any other child.”
Police chief Cathy Lanier said Wednesday’s canvasing targeted areas where Rudd was last seen.
“It could be just a small piece of information that someone thinks is insignificant,” Lanier said of possible tips that could lead to Rudd. “We got a late start on Relisha, and that late start hurt us,” she added.
While Lanier said police could not send officers to each and every volunteer-organized search for Rudd, like one held Saturday near where Tatum was found dead, they do follow up on any information reported to them.
When asked if she believes Rudd is still alive, Lanier replied, “My hope is that she’s alive.”
Photo credit: Sarah Anne Hughes