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Man Hid Drugs in Fake Dictionary: Police


The only things you’ll find in a Wallingford man’s dictionary are the ingredients for how to get arrested, according to police.

Police said they stopped Mark Vargo, 31, of Wallingford, in the parking lot of 1181 Barnes Road just after 8:47 p.m. on Saturday because his car matched the description of a vehicle used during car break-ins and found a dictionary that was not what it appeared to be.

Police said Vargo had several pills in the car, as well as a lockbox disguised as a “New English Dictionary.”

Inside the lockbox, police found money, paraphernalia to use the pills and materials to package them for sale, according to the police report.

Vargo was arrested on several drug charges, including illegal possession and illegally obtaining or supplying of drugs.

Bond was set at $5,000 and he is due in court on April 15.

It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: Wallingford Police

Calif. Gas Leak May Cause Outages


Parts of Southern California might face 14 days of electrical power disruptions due to unavailable natural gas after a monthslong leak at a storage facility in the San Fernando Valley, leaders from key energy agencies said Tuesday.

The blowout crippled a major energy supply for the region and required a partial shutdown. The storage field has not operated at full capacity since the leak was discovered in October, and the chairman of the California Energy Commission said Tuesday that the partial shutdown could lead to power cuts for up to 14 days as demand skyrockets during the heat of summer.

The information was presented at a meeting of staff members from the California Energy Commission, the California Independent System Operator, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The agencies worked together to assess how the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility would impact summer electricity supplies parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties.

They submitted a draft plan Tuesday that provided a range of recommendations to minimize the possibility of electrical disruptions during the summer. The field still has some gas in it, but officials are planning for expected shortages when gas is needed to power electric plants during peak summer demands.

Gas shortages to electrical power plants supplied by Aliso Canyon could interrupt supplies to customers, according to the agencies.

"Aliso Canyon plays an essential role in maintaining both natural gas and electric reliability in the greater Los Angeles area," according to the plan. "As a result, the facility’s limited current operations create a distinct possibility of electricity service interruptions in the coming summer months."

Possible actions include the use of 15 billion cubic feet of natural gas preserved in Aliso Canyon to be used during peak demand periods. The gas was preserved through an order by the California Public Utilities Commission. 

The recommendations include "strong energy conservation programs," such as the state's Flex Alert campaign, which warns residents and businesses to reduce energy consumption on high-demand days. Customers can sign up for alerts, issued by the California Independent System Operator.

Those plans and other measures "will reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of gas shortages" that could cause outages this summer, according to the plan. 

The draft action plan will be discussed at a public workshop with the energy agencies Friday in Woodland Hills. The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Warner Center Marriott, 21850 Oxnard Street.

It is estimated the leak, active from Oct. 23 to Feb. 18, released as much as 100,000 tons of methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, and an undetermined amount of different hydrocarbons, sulfur compounds, and other contaminants. 

Health officials said there was no risk of long-term health problems, although the presence of mercaptan -- an odorant added to natural gas -- could cause temporary discomfort. Many residents reported symptoms such as nausea, headaches and stomach problems, prompting them to move into temporary housing out of the area as teams worked to cap the leak.

Photo Credit: AP, File

Manhattan, Chicago Are Priciest Places to Wed: Survey


Manhattan and Chicago are the two most expensive places to get married in the United States, but the affair will likely cost a pretty penny no matter the location, according to a new survey. 

Couples preparing to say "I do" are spending an average of $32,641, according to wedding blog The Knot, which surveyed nearly 18,000 American brides and grooms in 2015 for its ninth annual report.

The average cost of a wedding is up by more than $5,500 in the past five years, though the overall price swings based on where couples wed, reported the Knot. The Knot surveyed members of TheKnot.com, which claims to represent nearly 80 percent of American brides, and used data exclusively from those who said they wed in 2015.

Four of the five most expensive areas to get married were in the New York Tri-State area, with the average price of a Manhattan wedding costing $82,299. Chicago was the No. 2 priciest at $61,265, followed by New York's Westchester and Hudson Valley region, Long Island and north and central New Jersey.

The most affordable places to get married were: Alaska ($17,361), South Dakota ($18,890) and West Texas ($19,261). 

Still, wedding spending has reached an all-time high, the survey found. Elements that increased the most in the past five years include the reception venue, location of the ceremony and reception band.

While the price of the affair may be on the uptick, couples are finding ways to express their individuality. Twenty-two percent of couples choose a theme for their wedding. Nineteen-percent
of couples also opted to include ethnic and religious rituals.

Couples seem to be spending more on their guests' experience, though the number of guests has shrunk. The average number of guests in 2015 was down 10 to 139, but the cost per guest increased from $194 to $237, as compared to 2009.

One category that has more than tripled is guest entertainment as couples have added unique events, like cigar rolling stations or wine and liquor tastings, to their nuptials.

Though costs and extravagance may be on the uptick, couples seeking a simpler affair may be the true winners. A study from Emory University found evidence that "marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony."

University researchers surveyed more than 3,000 individuals in the United States in 2014 who married the opposite sex and are not widowed.

Their conclusions revealed that both men and women associate less spending on the wedding with a longer marriage. Instead, the report suggests high wedding attendance and having a honeymoon, regardless of cost, are more promising indicators of a lasting marriage.

Photo Credit: AP

Man Charged With Sex Assault of Sacred Heart Student


Bridgeport police have arrested a local man who is accused of sexually assaulting a Sacred Heart University student at his home on Wednesday, March 30th.

Police said Alfonso Reid, 39, of Bridgeport, met the victim at a bar Sacred Heart students frequent and he gave the 19-year-old woman and her friends a ride home.

Somehow, he got the victim back to his house, where he is accused of sexually assaulting her.

Police said they do not believe the victim went to Reid's house willingly.

Reid, who has an extensive criminal history, was arrested at his house at 6:30 a.m. today and charged with first-degree sexual assault.

Bond was set at $750,000.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

'Trump 2016' NY Traffic Sign Tampering Under Investigation


Someone changed an electronic road sign to display the words "Trump 2016" late last month in upstate New York, state police said. 

Troopers were called to the sign at state Route 312 and Ice Pond Road in Southeast after getting a report that the sign, which was intended to let motorists know about construction, had been tampered with.

Responding officers found the board had been changed to display the presidential candidate's name, and a state Department of Transportation contractor later came to turn off the sign. 

Trump posted a photo of the sign, along with a New York State Police cruiser, to his Facebook page on Friday. It's not clear how he obtained the image, which was later deleted.

Requests for comment from Trump's campaign haven't been returned. 

It's not clear who changed the sign, but state police are investigating, authorities say. 

Photo Credit: Via Facebook

Burglar Suspect Sought in New Haven Bank Robbery


Police are looking for the suspect who robbed a New Haven bank on Tuesday.

Just after 2:00 p.m., a man entered the Webster Bank on Elm Street and demanded money from the teller with a note. The suspect did not mention or display any weapon. 

The suspect left after the teller gave him an undisclosed amount of money from the drawers.

Police describe the man as being 35 to 40 years old, 5'11" and wearing a black and white striped shirt with a dark blue jacket. The clean-shaven man wore sunglasses and had a Band-Aid on his nose.

Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call police at (203) 946-6304.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Legislators Call on Bank of America to Move HQ to CT


State legislators are calling on Bank of America to move its headquarters to Connecticut after after North Carolina, where the bank is based, passed a law restricting the rights for LGBT residents, the state's general assembly said. 

"Connecticut is home to world class financial institutions," Rep. Matthew Lesser of Middletown said. "We invite Bank of America to consider moving to a state that shares its social values and supports its LGBT workforce."

Banking Committee chairs, Lesser and Rep. Gary Winfield of New Haven, in addition to more than 40 other legislators, are urging to Charlotte-based bank to come to Connecticut after a new law blocks transgendered residents from accessing restrooms and prevents local governments from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances, the general assembly said. 

"If the State of North Carolina insists on standing on the wrong side of history by keeping this law on the books, we are more than happy to invite Bank of America to join us in Connecticut, where we are proud to stand with the LGBT community," said Winfield.

Bank of America is one of the biggest companies in North Carolina to openly oppose the controversial law, the assembly said.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

UConn Student Government Wants Cosby's Honorary Degree Revoked


UConn’s student government wants to revoke comedian Bill Cosby’s honorary degree because of the numerous sexual assault allegations against him.

Cosby's honorary degree was given to him in 1996 when he delivered the university’s commencement speech.

UConn's Undergraduate Student Goverment (USG) passed an unanimous proposal to revoke the honorary degree Wednesday.

“Honorary degrees are the university choosing to associate public figures with our school. And I don’t think we should choose to associate someone who’s been accused of over 50 acts of sexual violence,” said Stephen Porcello, the USG Funding Board Chair

Cosby's reputation came crumbling down after more than 50 women accused actor of sexually assaulting them.

Dozens of women came forward with claims of sexual assault, some dating back nearly 50 years. The statutes of limitations in most instances have passed. Cosby has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

It wasn’t until Dec. 2015 when 78-year-old Cosby was charged in Pennsylvania with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. He pleaded not guilty.

USG students said Cosby does not represent their university.

“If UConn has a commitment to survivors of sexual assault we can’t simultaneously say we’re going to honor this man at our university,” Said Haddiyyah Ali, USG's Commuter Senator.

A spokesperson for the university told NBC Connecticut in a statement: “We’re having thoughtful discussions at UConn about the issue, but no decisions have been made so far.”

USG students say they’ve been waiting for a decision since last year. They're asking university administrators for a swift response.

Eight other universities in Connecticut have revoked Cosby’s honorary degrees.

Photo Credit: AP

Stranded Dolphin in West River Unable to Be Saved


A dolphin stranded in the banks of the West River has died after attempts to save the animals life, an animal shelter said. 

"We had an unusual call today of a dolphin stranded," Guilford Police Animal Shelter said on Facebook. 

According to the shelter, Mystic Aquarium volunteers and veterinarians responded but the stranded dolphin was "too far gone" to be saved. 

Veterinarians suspect the juvenile Pacific white-sided dolphin was separated from his mother too soon, the animal shelter said. The dolphin was very ill when he was found. 

While it is not uncommon to find dolphins in the river, the animal shelter said it is rare to see this specific species of dolphin, Guilford's animal shelter wrote on a Facebook comment. 

Officials hope they can more learn about illnesses plaguing wild marine life in the area. 

Photo Credit: Guilford Police Animal Shelter

Why Aren't Americans Included in the Panama Papers?


One of the many remarkable things about the massive Panama Papers leak is what's not there: Americans.

Nowhere among the names of world leaders, famous athletes, billionaires and notorious underworld operatives are any that live in the United States, NBC News reports.

The documents, related to a Panamanian law firm that specializes in creating shell companies for many of the world's richest people, provide a glimpse into how secret fortunes and ill-gotten gains are moved through a shady financial network, according to The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, which worked with news organizations around the world to analyze the files.

The absence of Americans doesn't necessarily mean that Americans are more upfront, or more law abiding, than their counterparts around the world, experts said. There are a number of possible reasons why none have showed up in the coverage. One possible reason: America is itself a tax haven.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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Route 214 in Ledyard Closed After 1 Hurt in Major Accident


Route 214 is closed in Ledyard after one person was hurt in a car accident, fire officials said. 

Ledyard Fire Department said Route 214 will be closed for an extended period of time between Route 117 and Spicer Hill Road. Ledyard Police are investigating the accident.

LifeStar responded to the accident and extricated one patient, fire officials said. 

Police are asking people to avoid the area. 

There was no other details immediately available.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Milford Residents Concerned Over Plans for Marijuana Dispensary


A vote by the Planning & Zoning Board in Milford on Tuesday night brought the opening of the city's first medical marijuana dispensary one step closer to reality. Some concerned residents vowed to continue their fight against such businesses and said they will push for stronger regulations in the future.

The board approved a site plan application for a medical marijuana dispensary named Arrow Alternative II, which is planned to open at 255 West River Street. With the approval, the owner of the proposed dispensary can apply and obtain a zoning permit to "fit-out" the interior of the building and eventually open the dispensary.

“Someplace, somewhere, somebody dropped the ball and we’re paying the price," said Gail Haas a Milford resident.

Dozens of residents at Tuesday's Planning & Zoning meeting were hoping that the board would not approve a site plan for the new medical marijuana dispensary.

“It’s not just a case of not wanting it in my backyard," said Hass, who lives four doors down from the proposed business location. "It shouldn’t be in anybody’s backyard," she said.

The attorney representing the future dispensary owner said that the board's vote is a big step toward the grand opening.

“I know he’s anxious and eager to open for his patients," said Danielle Bercury, attorney for Angelo DeFazio. “We believe that was what was required under the law," she said.
Some residents were grappling with the board's vote.

“There’s commercial area that are nowhere near residences and that’s where it should be put," said Robert Fiore of Milford.

Mr. DeFazio already owns a similar business in Hartford. His attorney said DeFazio will now apply for and obtain a zoning permit to prepare to open the doors of the dispensary in Milford.

“We’re just going to have to hope for the best and hope that our worst fears don’t come true," said Haas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

State Reps Consider Marijuana Legalization


The state of Connecticut has already decriminalized small amounts of the drug and created programs that allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Now, some state representatives here in Connecticut hosted an informational hearing today on legalizing recreational use here as it is in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

New Haven State Reps. Juan Candelaria and Toni Walker hosted a discussion about it today and Candelaria said legalizing marijuana could raise revenue during the state's economic crises.

“Now we’re struggling with the budget and how we’re going to … where are we going to find revenue and what programs need to be cut so that we can balance the budget. But now we have a solution. This generates revenue to the state but also to the local municipalities,” Candelaria said.

He introduced the legalization of recreational marijuana usage for this session. While it did not pass, he said he hopes the conversation will start the development of a task force to study how the legalization of marijuana will impact the state.

Part of the proposed bill would tax the drug and direct the money to the state’s general fund.

“We should seriously be considering the decriminalization of this substance for recreational use and capitalize on the many financial benefits it would bring the state coffers," Candelaria said.

Several lawmakers who are in favor of the legalization measure, along with safety experts and Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon spoke at the meeting.

Pabon said his state is seeing the tax benefits derived from marijuana sales.

“So right now in Colorado, $40 million is dedicated to new public school construction or renovation which is sorely needed all over the country," he said.

When asked about the proposed legislation yesterday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he is not a supporter of it.

"I think when you legalize marijuana, you're encouraging marijuana and that's not the place I want to go," Malloy said.

He added that he thinks the state has done what is necessary by decriminalizing small amounts of the drug and allowing the use of medical marijuana.

"I believe marijuana should be allowed for whatever medical malady that it brings real comfort to, or assistance to," Malloy said.

According to the governor, decriminalizing small amounts of the drug has taken about 8,000 arrests out of the court system.

Some organizations, including the Guilford Developmental Assets for Youth, also oppose the legalization of marijuana.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

2 DCF Managers Accused of 'Egregious Misconduct' Fired


The state Department of Children and Families has fired two Children and Families Program Managers who are accused of “egregious misconduct,” after leaving two Willimantic children in the care of a couple who are on sex-offender and child-abuse registries.

The details of the case that were outlined in the letters Department of Children and Families provided were redacted, but the Hartford Courant reported in February that a 1-year-old and an infant were left with a father who is a registered sex offender and a mother who is on a child-abuse registry despite a child-abuse hotline complaint. 

Officials from the Department of Children and Families said on Tuesday that the terminations are from the investigation in this case.

In February, Commissioner Joette Katz said the office director learned of the family’s arrangement in August 2015 and the children were immediately removed from the home, and that police were contacted on Aug. 14.

According to the letter human resources sent to the fired employees, a social worker supervisor went to a manager with the facts and the manager “failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the children and allowed the children to remain in this arrangement,” the letter says.

“The expectation in this case would have been for you to give direction to remove the children and find a safe and appropriate alternative for their care. Your claim that you directed a consult with clinical staff and legal staff does not alleviate your managerial responsibility to override the improper decisions made on this case in the interest of the safety of the children involved,” the letter says.

Parts of the letter to the other employee are redacted and say the children were left in the situation for weeks after the employee became aware and that she went on vacation shortly after the case was assigned.

Katz released a statement about firing the two employees.

“It is not an easy decision to make when we have to take disciplinary action. I know it takes a toll – not just on the staff immediately affected but on the office in question as well as the entire workforce,” she said in a statement. “But at the end of the day, we must place the children we serve above everything else. In this case, our policies and expectations were clear. Safety factors were ignored, and we must be and are responsible for taking the necessary actions.”

Infighting, Frustration Rile Trump's Team: Sources


There's some internal discord in Donald Trump's campaign team, with disagreements over who is advising the candidate and whether his current team must expand if he is to win the GOP nomination, sources within the team told NBC News. 

The news comes after a significant loss in Wisconsin, where rival Ted Cruz won the primary.

After several tough weeks, peppered by charges against Trump's campaign manager for misdemeanor battery, and then comments from the candidate that infuriated all sides of the abortion debate, some within the Trump team said it was time for changes.

"There are essentially five or six people in the campaign," said one person who would only speak on the condition of anonymity. "Certain people don't want to lose power."

Speaking Tuesday with MSNBC, Trump said he had "not heard anything about inner fightings of the campaign. But you know we have a very successful campaign going and I think we're going to keep it going."

Photo Credit: AP

Owen Labrie Seeks New Trial


A New Hampshire prep school graduate who was convicted of sexually assaulting a younger student is seeking a new trial, arguing his attorneys didn't do enough to defend him.

Lawyers for Owen Labrie, 20, of Tunbridge, Vermont, filed the motion in court Tuesday, arguing Labrie was denied the constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel during his trial.

The motion, obtained by NBC News, alleges Labrie's trial attorneys didn't pay close enough attention to a charge of using a computer to lure a minor, a felony of which Labrie was convicted. As a result, Labrie was required to register as a sex offender in his home state.

"The trial counsel's failure to challenge the Computer Offense resulted in a miscarriage of justice," the motion says, calling the defense's strategy "objectively unreasonable."

Labrie's appellate attorney, Jaye Rancourt, said his trial attorney, J. W. Carney did not present evidence at trial to defend Labrie against the computer charge, and should have requested a jury instruction to explain the law.

"The purpose of the statute is to keep people from hiding behind a computer screen, thereby deceiving the person they're speaking with about who they are," said Rancourt. She said this statute does not apply to Labrie's communication with the victim.

In a statement, Labrie's trial attorney, J. W. Carney said, "I completely agree that the statute concerning improper use of a computer should not be applied to Owen Labrie given the evidence at trial and the jury's verdict. This is why I made a motion to set aside the verdict on this count several weeks before the sentencing hearing."

Labrie was convicted of sexual assaulting a 15-year-old classmate at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, when he was 18 years old. Prosecutors tied the assault to a competition in which seniors at the school sought to have sex with underclassmen.

He was aquitted of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and a felony count of using a computer to lure a minor. Labrie was sentenced to one year in jail, which he appealed, and five years of probation.

He was recently sent to Merrimack County Jail to begin a year-long sentence after he was found violating his curfew during his appeal process, while he was free on bail.

Labrie can petition to be removed from the list 15 years after he finishes his sentence.

NECN legal analyst Randy Chapman said these kinds of motions for a new trial are common, but rarely effective.

"I really think [Carney] did everything people expect their trial lawyer to do," said Chapman.

Rancourt said she's confident they can get a new trial.

"I understand it's a tough standard, but I believe we will be able to meet it," she said. "If we didn't think we could meet the standard, we wouldn't have filed the motion."

Victims' advocates say the appeals process, and the possibility of a new trial, is difficult to deal with.

"In this case, the victim, in her victim impact statement, so eloquently described both the emotional and physical wounds she endured, and the fear and anxiety she experienced in the first trial," said Lyn Schollett, Director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

"Most victims say a second trial would magnify that," said Schollett.

Photo Credit: AP

Burglar Swallows Ring


Police in the San Francisco Bay Area retrieved evidence from an unusual place last week.

A burglar, identified as Joel Steffensen, stole a ring from a Walnut Creek home Thursday and swallowed it, then led police on a pursuit that ended when he slammed into a BART station fence, police said. According to authorities, Steffensen had smoked meth prior to the break-in.

Steffensen was taken into custody and underwent a medical exam at a local hospital.

"The doctor saw some movement in the mouth and said, 'Hey, what’s in your mouth?'" said Walnut Creek police Lt. Lanny Edwards.

An X-ray revealed what he was trying to hide.

"It’s clear there is a metallic ring inside the suspect’s esophagus," Edwards said, adding, "We’ve never had an example where we had a photographic example of stolen property via an X-ray."

The homeowner reported the crime from his backyard after he woke up to the sound of Steffensen allegedly breaking into his house.

The victim’s neighbor, Tappee Massallia, remembered thinking, "Oh, my gosh! What’s this around? What’s happening?" when she spotted helicopters.

Steffensen fled when police arrived, triggering a chase through "several yards" and a "fight" to take him into custody, Edwards said. The suspect crashed his getaway vehicle at a nearby BART track. He was apprehended and taken to the hospital, according to Edwards.

Responding officers said Steffensen admitted to smoking meth earlier in the day, adding that doctors had to operate on him to fish out the stolen ring.

Police also discovered about $5,500 worth of other jewelry crammed into a pillowcase taken from the home.

Steffenson is in custody at the county jail and is facing multiple charges, including burglary and resisting arrest. It wasn't immediately known if he had hired an attorney who could comment on the case.

Photo Credit: Walnut Creek Police Department

85 Sacred Heart Students Cited for Underage Drinking, Bar Owner Cited


Hours after police arrested a man suspected of sexually assaulting a Sacred Heart University student he met at a bar, police raided the bar, charged 85 Sacred Heart students for underage drinking and cited the bar owner for liquor violations, police said.

Police raided Golden Star Café, at 3915 Main St. in Bridgeport, on Tuesday night, hours after arresting Alfonso Reid, 39, of Bridgeport.

He is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old Sacred Heart student he met the bar March 30 after he offered her a ride home, but instead took her to his house.

Officers raided the bar because they suspected it was serving people who are underage.

Police said they charged 100 people with underage drinking, including 85 Sacred Heart University students.

The bar owner is being cited for several liquor violations, police said, and has been referred to the liquor commission for violations of state liquor law.

“To find that nearly the entire bar was underage, that blew our minds, we were really surprised by that,” said Bridgeport Police Captain Brian Fitzgerald.

Bridgeport Police and the State Liquor Commission were already planning an unannounced visit to this bar in a few weeks because of suspected underage drinking, Fitzgerald said.

“But in light of everything that happened,” Fitzgerald said, “We saw the urgency to move that operation up to last night.”

Each of the cited students will have to pay a $250 fine.

“We did this not to hurt the future of any Sacred Heart students,” Fitzgerald said. “We all make mistakes when we are kids, but at the same time we’re trying to protect them.”

NBC Connecticut went to the bar and one person who identified himself as a part owner of the bar did not want to comment.

Justin Schecker contributed to this report

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Missing NC Hikers Found Busking After 3-Day Search


Two hikers, who disappeared in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest on Saturday, were located three days later busking on a city street 30 miles away, NBC News reported.

Tesla Rackley, 20, and her boyfriend Anthony Logan, 25, were reported missing Sunday after they got separated from two people they were hiking with, Henderson County Sheriff's Office Major Frank Stout told NBC News.

After a three-day search, deputies found the pair playing guitar on a street corner in downtown Ashville following a tip.

Stout says the couple "didn't have a clue" that anyone was looking for them and that it didn't occur to them to call their families.

Photo Credit: Henderson County Sheriff's Office

Renewed Search for Missing DC Girl


Police in Washington, D.C., are searching the National Arboretum in their renewed efforts to find 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, who vanished from a city homeless shelter over two years ago.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said search teams spent Wednesday combing through the arboretum in Northeast Washington. The search is suspended for the day and will continue Thursday morning, when divers will search a large body of water there.  

"It's not a large body of water, but it will take the divers some time to get through it," Lanier said at a news confernce Wednesday morning. 

Lanier said the search area is based on information investigators received.

Rudd was last seen March 1, 2014, at a Northeast D.C. motel just down the street from the arboretum with 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum, a janitor at the homeless shelter where she lived with her mother and three brothers.

The 8-year-old's family had allowed her to spend time with Tatum before her disappearance, and she appeared to have been missing for weeks before officials realized she was gone. Rudd, a second-grader, hadn't been seen at Payne Elementary School since the month before her disappearance.

No one has been charged in her disappearance.

The day after a missing persons report was filed, Tatum's wife, Andrea Denise Tatum, was found dead in a motel in Oxon Hill, Maryland. A few days later, Tatum was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Kenilworth Park.

Police have said Tatum purchased a shovel, lime and contractor-sized trash bags, and spent a significant amount of time at Kenilworth Park around the time Rudd was last seen. Investigators have looked into the possibility Tatum killed Rudd and buried her in the park, but her body was never found.

In the two years since her disappearance, investigators and K-9 teams have searched multiple sites, including a construction site and the Anacostia River.

The last search for Rudd was conducted in December 2015 when dozens of police officers, federal agents and police dogs scoured a construction site in Northeast Washington. Nothing significant was found during the seven-hour search.

After Rudd's disappearance, D.C. officials took a second look at how they handled her case, but their report found the District couldn't have prevented her disappearance, citing, in part, misleading information provided by Rudd's family.

The report did suggest, however, more than two dozen recommended policy changes on issues including how schools deal with unexcused absences, background checks for homeless shelter employees, and fraternization between families and shelter staff. 

Photo Credit: Family Photos
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