D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said there are no confirmed sightings of Tatum and Relisha together after March 1, and no sightings of Relisha at all after that date. –The Washington Post
As we approach the anniversary of the disappearance of Relisha Rudd, the pig-tailed, now 9-year-old young girl with a mocha complexion, who resided in the DC General Emergency Family Shelter last year, I wonder how many of us remain haunted by her hopeful, if not also wistful, face and demeanor, now displayed only sporadically in the press. Or troubled by the lack of a plausible explanation about what actually happened to her? Or disturbed by the bizarre and public family argument about who is responsible for giving her over to the Shelter’s maintenance worker in the first place? And after Tatum’s provocative homicide/suicide, how many are drawn to the persistent questioning, Where is Relisha?
The answers are elusive, and unresolved by extensive investigations and media reports. Why no one detected that Relisha was deathly vulnerable? Why no one made certain that this child was protected, and nurtured? In the midst of the recent arctic blasts and wintry fury, recollections of Relisha and our shared inability to put her spirit to rest appear still to haunt this powerful, progressive city. Perhaps this will ensure a measure of resistance to collective coping through denial, returning to predictable status quo and the usual distractions of urban living between random reports of horrific, tragic deaths and painful childhood loss.
Relisha’s memory simply will not allow it. Cannot allow it. A year later, we remain troubled by shared adult culpability. By the requirement that a truly civil society keeps all of its children free from harm, no matter the circumstances of their birth. By our corporate, community obligation yet flagrant failure to keep her safe. To keep all children safe.
The city remains haunted by its ironic and terribly sad tribute to Relisha. And so the city should.