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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  • Social Awareness

    And yes, I agree this does remind us of the Casey Anthony trash trial-but there’s a major difference as to why Relisha is being put on smaller scale. 1)SKIN COLOR 2)QUALITY OF LIFE & BACKGROUND. E.g. Shamika is just viewed as another poor black single mother that fits America’s negative statistics v. Casey who America was more invested and interested because of her strong family background and ideal “QUALITY” living situation (homeowners, social lives). Casey Anthony was part of a “FUNCTIONAL” white family in society, so what happened was not expected for her little girl. In Relisha’s case, this is what is/was expected which equals little to no national coverage, care, or concern.

  • Phillygurl

    Is there a post simply about the search for Relisha Rudd, simply about finding this baby. I call her a baby because by the time a black girl reaches a certain age, even if they are a victim they are somehow complicit in what happens to them by default in the eyes of most.

    • MyThoughts

      NBCWashington ( ) has the followed the story for the month and has links for articles as well as timeline.

  • hidaya

    the mother is 24 yrs old and Relisha is 8 yrs old which means mom was 16yrs old when Relisha was born. Yet, Mom had 3 MORE kids… homeless…. looking to strange men to help entertain RElisha. She is delusional to say she is a hell of a mom…. Undeducated and delusional.

  • r.u kidding

    How delusional can you be to commit your precious daughter (according to you) to a stranger? This isnt racial its selfishness of the worst kind. May the mother be arrested. May she be charged with neglect and manslaughter. Her neglect caused this.