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D.C. mayor calls for closure of homeless shelter where missing girl lived

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray urges emergency shelter found for those living at homeless shelter connected to disappearance of Relisha Rudd.
By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |   April 8, 2014 at 11:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray on Tuesday called for the closure of DC General homeless shelter where missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd lived with her family.

Relisha was reported missing March 19, nearly a month after her mother, Shamika Young, left the girl with Kahlil Tatum, 51, who worked as a janitor at the shelter.

Tatum was found dead March 31 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, and Relisha remains missing.

"My administration is committed to moving as many families out of the DC General shelter as quickly as possible through our 500 families, 100 Days initiative, and I've also asked [Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services BB Otero] and Department of Human Services Director David Berns to develop a plan to close the DC General shelter and provide alternative emergency shelter options for District families," Gray said in a statement Tuesday. "We must continue to do everything in our power to protect the District’s most vulnerable children.”

Relisha's disappearance went unreported for nearly a month. It wasn't until a counselor at her school noticed her mounting absences that police were notified.

“I continue to be distressed over the fact that Relisha Rudd remains missing, and my thoughts and prayers remain with her family and loved ones,” Gray said. “While there is no indication that District government agencies or staff failed to fulfill their duties, I will make sure that the District government responded to the facts of this case in a way that was both appropriate and responsible. With that in mind, I’ve directed Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services BB Otero and Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith to conduct a complete review of all the facts in this matter and to make recommendations if any reforms to the District’s policies and practices are warranted.”

[Washington, D.C.]
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