April 1, 2014 / 3:40 PM / 4 years ago

Body in Washington, DC, park identified as girl's abductor: Police

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A body found in a Washington, D.C., park has been identified as that of a janitor suspected of murdering his wife and abducting an 8-year-old girl whose disappearance has made national headlines, police said on Tuesday.

The dead man found in the 700-acre park on Monday was 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum, according to a posting made on the District of Columbia Police Department’s official Twitter feed.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the man appeared to have committed suicide.

Authorities have been searching for Tatum and the girl he was suspected of kidnapping, Relisha Rudd, since discovering the body of Tatum’s wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, who was apparently murdered, in a suburban Maryland motel room on March 20.

Rudd, who lived at a homeless shelter where Tatum worked as a janitor, was last seen with Tatum in Washington on March 1. The following day Tatum purchased a carton of 42-gallon trash bags and police said he was seen not long after in the area of Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington.

Police and volunteers searched the park and surrounding area for about a week in what Lanier called a “recovery operation” for the missing girl.

Last week, the FBI released surveillance footage of Rudd walking with Tatum down the hallway of a Washington hotel on February 26.

After the girl vanished, Tatum continued to go to work and was sighted in the city without the girl throughout the month, until he disappeared after his wife’s apparent murder on March 20.

“Our primary focus here was to find Relisha ... and we’re not finished,” the chief said on Monday, adding that the search for the missing child would resume in the park on Tuesday morning.

The FBI is offering up to $25,000 for information leading to the location and return of Rudd.

(This story has been refiled to fix spelling of district to Columbia in paragraph two)

Editing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Alden Bentley

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