Relisha Tenau Rudd missing in Southeast D.C.

Photo of alleged suspect Khalil Tatum

(WJLA) - Metropolitan Police put out an alert on Wednesday night for 8-year-old Relisha Tenau Rudd, who is missing and may be traveling in either a red SUV or black Honda. It did not take long for somebody to spot the cars in the parking lot of the Oxon Hill Red Roof Inn.

Police rushed to the hotel on Thursday morning and began pounding on doors, and finally found a victim – an adult woman, who had been murdered – in a first floor room near the cars.

According to one officer, the adult female was suffering from trauma to the body.

But there was no sign of little Relisha Rudd anywhere, so police issued an Amber Alert, stating the girl may be in the company of two men: Kahlil Tatum, the owner of one of the vehicles, and his friend Ricky Lyles, a man with a long criminal history including a child abuse conviction.

Family and friends tell ABC 7 News that Tatum is a janitor at the homeless shelter near the D.C. jail where the mother reportedly gave Tatum permission to spend time with her daughter – the problem is, he was supposed to bring her back.

"That is sad, that is heartbreaking actually -- I'm sorry to hear all this going{ } on especially where I'm staying with my little girl," says guest Alexis Washington.

This all started on Wednesday night after a resourceful school counselor learned the girl had not been to school in several weeks and went to shelter, sensing somewhat was amiss.

He called police, and despite the fact that no crime had taken place, officers went ahead and called for a critical missing persons report. Hours later at the hotel, police found the two vehicles along with the body of an adult woman relatives and neighbors are now saying was in a relationship with Tatum.

When he and the little girl were nowhere to be found, that is when police set off an Amber Alert.

Police say Relish and the men may be in a white 1976 GMC truck with Maryland tags, 305015. Guests staying at the Inn tell us they saw nothing usual in the room, and if Relisha was there, they did not notice.

Police say Relisha was last seen Feb. 26 at a Southeast Washington shelter. The fiance of Rudd's mother said he believes the girl is traveling with a man known to the family, and may be in need of medication.

Relisha Tenau Rudd is described as a 4-foot tall black female who weighs approximately 70-80 pounds. She has black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion.

According to an Amber Alert update issued on Thursday afternoon, Tatum may very well be armed and dangerous.

On Thursday evening, there was heartbreak and frustration outside of the Prince George’s County Police Department, as Belinda Wheeler told ABC7 that she is like a grandmother to the missing 8-year-old girl:

"I'm very heartbroken because I love Relisha like she was really mine."

Inside, Wheeler said police have been questioning her son Antonio for hours, and Antonio Wheeler says he is the missing girl’s mother’s fiancé. He had reportedly been asking her mother where the little girl was.

"He's not a suspect...that's what they're saying...he's not a suspect," said Belinda about her son.

The missing girl and her family reportedly live at this D.C. homeless shelter, and her mother told D.C. Police that she left with shelter worker Tatum three weeks ago.

"He's Relisha's godfather," explained Belinda. "He is supposed to be -- he buys her a lot of gifts, she goes a lot of places with this man."

Wheeler said that as the hours go by, she grows even more worried:

"I don't think he would hurt her, but when you get under pressure, you're allowed to do anything."

If found, investigators ask that you call 911 or the MPD Command Information Center at (202) 727-9099.