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Body Found in Search for Missing D.C. Girl Was of Suspect

WI Web Staff | 3/31/2014, 5:10 p.m. | Updated on 4/1/2014, 10 a.m.
A member of the FBI's forensic team leads a search dog through Kenilworth Park in Northeast D.C. on March 27 in connection with the search for missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd. According to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Kahlil Malik Tatum, a suspect in the disappearance of Rudd, purchased a pack of 42-gallon contractor bags from a D.C. store on March 2, and his cell phone was tracked to the park later that day. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

The body found Monday in the search for missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd was of the man suspected in her disappearance, authorities said.

The remains of Kahlil Malik Tatum, 51, were found while searching Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, an area police have combed since Thursday, said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

He apparently committed suicide, Lanier said.

New information in the girl's disappearance led authorities to the park Thursday. Tatum purchased a pack of 42-gallon contractor-sized trash bags from a District store on March 2, a day after he was last seen with the girl, police said. His cellphone activity later that day was tracked to the park.

Lanier said the search is now considered a "recovery operation."

Relisha and Tatum were seen on Feb. 26 in surveillance footage from a Holiday Inn Express on Bladensburg Road, not far from the park.

The girl, who has been missing since March 1, had been staying with her mother and stepfather at a D.C. shelter where Tatum worked as a janitor. Relisha and her family knew Tatum prior to her disappearance.

Prince George's County had a murder warrant for Tatum for the death of his wife, Andrea Denise Tatum. Her body was found March 20 at the Red Roof Inn in Oxon Hill, Md.