Relisha Rudd's stepfather holds onto hope a decade later

"Relisha Rudd is D.C.’s baby," said Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation.

Rudd was just 8 years old when she vanished from a city homeless shelter on March 1, 2014.

Friday marks ten years since her disappearance. Community members gathered to pass out fliers highlighting the unsolved case – in hopes someone will come forward with a clue. 

Relisha was last seen at a Northeast D.C. motel along New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road where she was captured on video walking down a hallway with a man she and her family knew well.

"She was real helpful. She was always happy. She kept the family happy. She was that spirit for the family," said her stepfather, Antonio Wheeler.

Relisha was last seen with Khalil Tatum, a man her parents knew, who worked as a janitor at the shelter Rudd lived at with her family.

"I told her, my grandfather told her before he passed on, keep him away from Relisha. He was getting too fond of Relisha," said Wheeler about his warnings to Relisha’s mother.


Relisha Rudd disappearance: DC marks 10 years since girl vanished from city homeless shelter

The Washington, D.C. region is marking 10 years since the disappearance of Relisha Rudd.

But it took 18 days before anyone realized the little girl was missing.

"They're asking me when the last time I seen her. I was told she was at Ashley’s house. Shomika, her mother, told them she was at the shelter last. No she wasn’t," Wheeler said. 

During the weeks-long search for Relisha, Tatum shot and killed himself, and it’s widely believed by investigators that he killed her before taking his life.

But there are others with different theories and many are still searching for her to this day.

"We believe that someone out there, they know something, and we're not going to stop looking for Relisha until we can bring her home or bring answers to the D.C. area," Wilson said. 

A new age progression photo from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shows what Relisha might look like now at the age of 18.

"Look at this flier and look at this poster. This age progression that the national center has put out. And if you know anything, we encourage you to make that phone call," Wilson said.

Now, 10 years later her stepfather says he often thinks of what Relisha went through in the final moments before she was taken.

"What keeps me up in the past was just her screaming for daddy or screaming for help, period and nobody was there. Nobody was there," Wheeler said.

But since Relisha’s body has never been found, there’s hope she’s still alive and one woman who is the longest living Jane Doe says we can’t give up just yet.

"Being missing for 50 years that was the assumption, but all missing children aren’t dead," said Monique Smith.


Relisha Rudd Remembrance Day keeps her name alive over 9 years since disappearance

Tuesday is Relisha Rudd Remembrance Day in the District.

"We’re alive, we’re walking, we don’t know that we were abducted, and this is the same hope I have for Relisha."

"I got my hopes. I honestly do," added Wheeler.

"I spoke with my son, and he says he believes she’s still alive, they’re just not looking hard enough. I got hope, but I’m preparing for the worst."

If you know anything about the case, you’re asked to contact D.C. Police's Youth and Family Services division.

You can also send tips to the Black and Missing Foundation, who will pass along that information to law enforcement.