WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Police may have found the body of a janitor suspected of murdering his wife and abducting an 8-year-old girl whose disappearance had made national headlines, District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on Monday.
Authorities have been searching for the girl, Relisha Rudd, and her suspected abductor, 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum, since discovering the body of Tatum’s wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, in a suburban Maryland motel room on March 20.
“We have tentatively identified the person we found today as that of Mr. Tatum,” Lanier said, adding that the man appeared to have committed suicide. His body was discovered in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington.
Relisha Rudd was last seen with Tatum in Washington on March 1. The following day Tatum purchased a carton of 42-gallon trash bags and police said he was seen not long after in the area of the Aquatic Gardens.
Last week the FBI released surveillance footage of Rudd walking with Tatum down the hallway of a Washington hotel on February 26.
Officials said the girl had been living with her family at the same homeless shelter where Tatum worked as a janitor. Tatum continued to go to work and was sighted in the city without the girl throughout the month, until he disappeared after his wife’s murder on March 20.
“Our primary focus here was to find Relisha ... and we’re not finished,” the chief said, adding that the search for the missing 8-year-old will resume in the park on Tuesday morning.
Lanier described the search of the 700-acre park, underway for almost a week on Monday, as a “recovery operation.”
The FBI is offering up to 25,000 for information leading to the location and return of Rudd.
Reporting by Lacey Johnson; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Michael Perry