WASHINGTON â€” No Amber Alerts were issued in several other surrounding states for a missing girl believed to be with a homeless shelter janitor despite claims by District of Columbia’s police chief, a WUSA-TV investigation has found.
Police believe Relisha Rudd, 8, is with 51-year-old Kahlil Malik Tatum, who worked as a janitor at a homeless shelter where she’d been living with her mother and stepfather.
On Tuesday, the FBI released surveillance video showing Tatum leading the girl into a Holiday Inn Express in the District on Feb. 26, when police believe she first went missing.
Metropolitan Police Chief Kathy Lanier said during a news conference Monday that Amber Alerts for Relisha were sent to states “as far north as Pennsylvania and Delaware and as far south as Florida.”
When asked about Amber Alerts for Relisha not being issued in other states, Lanier balked.
“That is not true,” she said. “Actually I looked into that when I got the allegation.”
WUSA-TV reporters asked state police in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida about the alerts and officials in each state said none was issued for Relisha.
Police in North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York reported their state Amber Alert system was never activated to find the missing girl.
Both Maryland and Virginia police said they had contacted Washington police offering additional resources.
“State police also reached out to Metro Police to offer any assistance we could provide in relation their search efforts, to include activation of a Virginia alert,” said Virginia State Police Spokeswoman Corinne N. Geller.
Both states say the district never requested activation of their Amber Alert systems.
The discrepancy comes after the four-and-a-half hour cellphone alert delay WUSA-TV reported last week after officials declared an Amber Alert within the District.
According to officials at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, cellular providers don’t send out text alerts and digital billboards don’t automatically populate missing posters outside the boundaries of where the Amber Alert is active.
“To the best of my knowledge there are no Amber Alerts outside D.C. (for Relisha),” said NCMEC Amber Alert Coordinator Robert Hoever. “I believe there might be a misunderstanding about what an Amber Alert is.”
Hoever said Monday, five days after D.C. police issued the Amber Alert, the department did contact his agency asking for assistance in getting digital billboards activated in other jurisdictions.
A spokeswoman for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America said Monday the FBI had coordinated activation of some digital billboards in Maryland and on WMATA bus stop digital signs.
The District Department of Transportation said Friday it had activated signs, but declined to answer when asked at what time police contacted them or when the signs went up.
While searching for Relisha and Tatum on Thursday, police in Prince George’s County in Maryland found Tatum’s wife, beaten to death at a Red Roof Inn. Tatum has since been charged with the death of Andrea Denise Tatum, 51.
The FBI is now offering $25,000 for information that leads to Relisha. And Prince George’s County Police are offering $25,000 for information that leads to Tatum’s capture.
Sources say the stories Relisha’s mother, Shamika Young, told social workers earlier this month kept changing. The Children and Family Services Agency become so concerned about the little girl missing school for weeks, that it was social workers who finally went to police to ask them to start searching for her â€” even as the mother continued to insist she was OK.
D.C. police said Thursday that Tatum posed as a doctor, writing a note to Relisha’s school and even taking a call from school officials to say that the girl was sick.