WASHINGTON (AP) — A search of a park for a missing 8-year-old girl is a “recovery operation,” although District of Columbia police haven’t given up hope of finding the child alive, Chief Cathy Lanier said Thursday.A day after Relisha Tenau Rudd was last seen on March 1 in the district, suspect Kahlil Malik Tatum bought a carton of 42-gallon contractor trash bags at a store in Washington and was seen in the area of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Lanier said.
“We can’t ignore the possibility he may have killed her,” Lanier said at a news conference at the park.
Tatum, 51, was a janitor at the city homeless shelter where Relisha lived.
The girl’s repeated absences from school led authorities last week to look for her, although her family had not reported her missing.
The morning after the search began, police found Tatum’s wife, 51-year-old Andrea Tatum, dead in a motel room in nearby Oxon Hill, Md. Tatum is charged with fatally shooting her in the head. A charging document says Andrea Tatum’s daughter told authorities her mother was having domestic problems with her husband and was contemplating leaving him.
Digital billboards along the East Coast from Maryland to Georgia are displaying photos of Relisha and Tatum. FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said the agency is “casting a wide net” for Tatum.