Digital billboards aiding in search for 8-year-old

WASHINGTON (AP) – Digital billboards along the East Coast from Georgia to Maryland are displaying photographs of a slaying suspect from the Washington, D.C., area and a missing girl authorities say could be with him.

FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said Thursday the agency is “casting a wide net” in looking for 51-year-old Kahlil Malik Tatum, who is charged with killing his wife in Maryland. Officials believe Tatum may be traveling with 8-year-old Relisha Tenau Rudd, who officials have been looking for since last week. Tatum had been a janitor at the Washington homeless shelter where Rudd’s family lived.

Last week, the girl’s repeated absences from school led authorities to go looking for her, though her family had not reported her missing.

Relisha was last seen in school on March 5, said Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for the mayor’s office. Two days later, she was seen picking up her younger brothers at their school, Payne Elementary, but wasn’t in school herself. Family members said she was ill and provided a phone number for Tatum, who they said was Relisha’s doctor.

Tatum spoke with social workers on March 10, telling them the girl had a neurological illness and would be in and out of school. He was told documentation would be needed. When Relisha reached 10 unexcused absences March 13, it triggered and investigation.

Social workers went out to the homeless shelter March 19 to gather more information. They learned Tatum was not a doctor and got police involved in the case, Ribeiro said.

A document charging Tatum in the death of his wife says authorities went to a motel in Oxon Hill, Md., on March 20 as part of a missing child case. There, they found 51-year-old Andrea Tatum inside a motel room dead of a gunshot wound to the head. The document says Andrea Tatum’s daughter told authorities that her mother was having domestic problems with her husband and was contemplating leaving him. Kahlil Tatum was last seen at a Metro station in Suitland, Md., the document says.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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