The family of missing eight-year-old Relisha Rudd of D.C. believes she is still alive despite police calling the search a recovery mission.

“We cannot ignore the possibility that [Tatum] may have killed her,” says DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

Relisha’s mother, Shamika Young, speaks for the first time with NBC News 4 about her daughter’s disappearance, and she defends her decision to not call police when Relisha went missing nearly three weeks ago from the shelter where they were staying.

“I didn’t want to lose my other three kids,” Young says.

She also tells the reporter about how Kahlil Tatum took Relisha to Disney on Ice and bought her gifts. When asked why she entrusted her eight-year-old daughter with a 51-year-old man, she replies, “He didn’t look like that type of person.”

But he was.

Tatum, who worked at the shelter as a janitor, is wanted in the death of his wife, Andrea, whose body was found at an Oxon Hill Red Roof Inn last Thursday during the search for Relisha. He was last seen with Relisha at a hotel on Feb. 26 and again March 1.

On March 2, he purchased a carton of 42-gallon contractor-sized garbage bags, lime, and a shovel. He was also spotted at the 700-acre Kenilworth Gardens for some time shortly thereafter, where officials are currently conducting their search.

Yet, Young doesn’t feel Renisha’s disappearance is her fault.

“No, I don’t feel responsible…She was in the care of my mother and my sister; that’s why I don’t feel responsible,” she says.

Both mother and sister deny this allegation.

“I’m a hell of a mother,” Young says. “And I am going to say this. There’s kids out here who wish they had a mother like me.”

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