Amber Alert just sounded, but Relisha Rudd not seen since Feb. 26

Posted at 7:22 PM, Mar 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-21 19:26:03-04

Did your smart phone buzz wildly Thursday?

A Virginia Amber Alert issued by Russell County Sheriff's Department ended successfully Friday morning with 11 year-old Lucas Guinn found safe and his father under arrest.

Law enforcement credits the improving Amber Alert system with helping locate missing children, like Lucas.

To issue an amber alert through smart phones and social media the case of any missing child must meet strict levels of criteria

Like confirming an abduction has taken place, the child is at risk of serious injury or death, or if there is an ample descriptions of the child, captor or captor's vehicle.

Additionally, the child must be 17-years or younger.

We first reported on the search for Relisha Rudd, but why didn't our phones receive the alert, especially after learning she could have been in Richmond? The Amber Alert starts with investigators, and they reach out to state police to sound the Amber Alert.

D.C. metro police never reached out to State Police to sound that alert. In fact, Relisha hasn't been seen since Feb. 26.

It wasn't until March 19, that authorities were alerted something was amiss.  Relisha  had reportedly been staying at the D.C. General Family Shelter with her mother and stepfather for the past year.

According to the station, Relisha's stepfather says her mother gave Relisha to a male janitor - identified by police as Kahlil Malik Tatum - who works at the shelter, more than three weeks ago and that they have not seen the girl since.

Authorities say Tatum may be armed and dangerous.

The child's disappearance was only brought to the attention of police on Wednesday after officials with D.C. Public Schools realized she hadn't been showing up for class, reports the station, CBS reports. 

The FBI joined the investigation into Relisha's disappearance on Thursday morning (March 20) after two vehicles possibly linked to the case were found at a motel in Oxon Hill, Md., reports CBS.

When officers arrived at the motel, they found an adult woman dead inside a room and the vehicles in the parking lot.

The Amber Alert sounded could soon bring information to her location.

The evolving technology applied to the Amber Alert Emergency System is like hundreds of thousands of extra eyes and ears for police and sheriffs departments across the commonwealth.

"With technology changes we are going to keep up with it every time there is a new opportunity or avenue we can reach more people by pushing the message we will," said Corrine Geller, Virginia State Police.

Parents we spoke with never dismiss an alert when it flashes on their phones or computer screens.

"Little ones are innocent and they need all of the help they can get in a situation like that," parent Bridget Murphy from Midlothian.

If you have information about Relisha Tenau Rudd’s whereabouts, call the Metropolitan Police Department at 202-727-9099 or 911.

Police described Relisha as a black female, four feet tall and weighing 70 to 80 pounds with black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion.