Relisha Rudd disappearance: What went wrong?

Photo: Metropolitan Police Department

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A group that works to give homeless children a sense of normalcy saw Relisha Rudd on a regular basis. Now that group can’t understand how her absence went undetected for so long.

Just a smile that lit up the room when she was in her element.

Relisha Rudd{ }is one of 600 homeless children who live at the D.C. General Family Shelter. She frequently interacted with workers from the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. The non-profit’s executive director says Relisha’s abduction is devastating and should never have happened.

“We’ve been trying to sound the alarm that the city needs to invest more services and more support and more eyes on these precious children to make sure their needs are being met and they’re not falling through the cracks.”

Relisha{ }was last seen on Feb. 26. An Amber Alert was issued Thursday for the 8-year-old girl who is believed to be with Khalil Tatum, a janitor at the shelter. She was missing from school for a number of days with little being done to learn about her absences.

“Everybody is just really worried and want to prevent this,” says{ }

“This should have been preventable, but at this point we just need to get Relisha home and we need to figure out what happened and what went wrong.”{ }

Relisha's{ }case is reminiscent of the quadruple homicides of four children at the hands of their mother, Banita Jacks. Over an 18-month period ending in 2008, five different agencies had contact with the mother, yet no one sounded the alarm and her children were found dead after 7 months.

Has the system failed Relisha Rudd?

“How many more children have to endure tragedies like this before we change the system?”