Relisha Rudd, a missing 8-year-old from the Washington D.C. area, is suspected by at least one advocacy group to have possibly been sold into a human trafficking network. The Black and Missing Foundation, an advocacy group which tracks and records missing persons of color to raise awareness for cases of recorded disappearances within the specific demographic, suspects that Relisha may have been sold into a human trafficking network.
Relisha was seen last on March 1, and although there have been extensive searches of the Washington D.C. area, no evidence of the missing 8-year-old has been yet uncovered. The searches did however discover the body of the man suspected to have played a role in her disappearance. In searching for Relisha, the body of Khalil Tatum was found, but no sign of the girl accompanied the body. Tatum’s wife’s body was reportedly found dead shortly after his own, at a separate location.
Tatum was a janitor at a homeless shelter that Relisha, along with her mother and step father were staying in. Relisha’ mother reportedly allowed Tatum to take and care for the girl, but when she reportedly requested that he return the child to her Tatum agreed to but never followed through. Tatum is thus believed to be the last person with whom the now missing 8-year-old girl was with. The question now is whether any possibility of finding Relisha has perished along with Khalil Tatum, or whether or not any member(s) of the public possessing any information will assist investigators in furthering the search. Public assistance could be crucial in the search for Relisha Rudd, 8-years-old and missing from Washington D.C. in a case which some believe might involve human trafficking.
The Black and Missing Foundation suspects that in the case of Relisha, human trafficking could have been a factor in her disappearance. The foundation was started by former police officer Derrica Wilson, along with her sister Natalie Wilson. Their goal is to raise awareness of disappearances of persons of color in order to help raise public awareness for the victims within the demographic. According to the foundation, more than 200,000 persons of color are reported missing each year, however the sisters are hoping that Relisha’s name may, with the public’s help, be one that has a chance to be saved from a permanent spot on the list.
“Sadly, this is an everyday occurrence” stated Natalie Wilson in speaking about Relisha’s disappearance. With the response from the public however, there may be a slight chance that additional information may be provided which may aid investigators in locating the missing girl. Foundation Co-founder Natalie also mentioned that Relisha’s case may have some hope due to the larger than average public response and attention paid to her situation. In speaking to press, Natalie stated that “compared to other cases, Relisha’s case has gotten quite a bit of media coverage.”
The sisters from the Black and Missing Foundation are hoping to convince investigators to expand the search for Relisha, stating their belief that the girl could likely be alive and not well. One suspicion is that the girl may have been either sold or abducted by Tatum, and possibly sold by him into a human trafficking network. The sisters’ of the foundation however believe that as of now, they are not searching for a body but a living person and are hoping that the public will help provide any information to assist in the search for Relisha.
An Amber Alert was issued on March 20, however the search continues for the little girl. Relisha Rudd, 8-years-old and missing from Washington D.C. may have been sold into human trafficking according to some, but hope remains that with an expanded search and some public assistance her name could be saved from the missing persons list. Time will tell whether that much needed information and larger search take place. Relisha’s parents have expressed their concern and hope for the little girl’s safe return.
By Daniel Worku