Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, and other officials involved in the search for Relisha Rudd marked the one-year anniversary of the child's disappearance with a press conference at the Metropolitan Police Department’s headquarters.
MPD, along with the FBI, Metro Transit Police Department, and Amtrak, are “beefing up” efforts to find the missing nine-year-old girl, according to Bowser, although no updates on the progress of the investigation were discussed.
“While we can’t talk about all the work that’s going on behind the scenes that’s not visible, what I can do is try and keep Relisha Rudd and this case visible in the news media,” Lanier said. “This is a press conference to keep this in the public eye, not to share any new information.”
Lanier’s statements indicated that police are relying on the public for leads regarding Relisha’s location. She was last seen on March 1, 2014 with Kahlil Tatum, a janitor at the homeless shelter where she lived with her mother and brothers. Tatum was later found dead of a presumed suicide.
“We’ll be out distributing flyers in multiple locations,” Lanier said of canvassing events scheduled for Monday morning and evening. “We’re looking for that shred of information that somebody might have that they have not passed on.”
Relisha is currently presumed to be missing by MPD, according to Lanier. “We don’t know, but there are many missing children who are found months, weeks, years, even, later, so we’re holding out hope that she’s still alive,” she said.
Laura Zeilinger, the acting director of D.C.’s Department of Human Services, addressed the status of D.C. General, the city's largest family homeless shelter and Relisha's former place of residence. “The physical space is very clean, there are staff on every single floor, there is security 24/7, there are cameras,” Zeilinger said. “We’re doing absolutely everything we can to make sure this a dignified space for families to be while they are experiencing homelessness.”
According to Zeilinger, D.C. General’s heating, air conditioning, and security cameras—which have been the subject of resident complaints—are all currently operating properly.
Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Brenda Donald said that training regarding child abuse and domestic violence has been increased for all human services employees and contractors. “This training is ongoing,” she said. “Before, there hadn’t been a checklist from each of the agencies to make sure everybody was getting it, and that’s in place now.”
Bowser closed the press conference by thanking the FBI specifically for their continued assistance on the case and for securing a $25,000 reward for information that leads to Relisha.
Photo via MPD