Missing 8-year-old Relisha Rudd has become more than a face attached to an Amber Alert. The strange details surrounding her disappearance from a D.C. homeless shelter has made headlines and raised the question, was Relisha sold? Suspicions have been fueled as it was revealed that Rudd’s mother, Shamika Young and stepfather, Antonio Wheeler, had posted pictures of material goods and wads of cash on their social media accounts.
Derrica Wilson, President and CEO of Black and Missing Foundation (BAM), has been very vocal and feels very strongly about the possibility that Rudd may have been trafficked. Wilson points out how Rudd’s mother never reported her missing. Eventually it was Rudd’s school and other city officials that sounded the alarm, after a check into why Rudd had been missing from school for more than 30 days.
“The icing on the cake for me is when I see the mom posting pictures of herself with her boys and her fiancé, Relisha’s stepfather, with new Jordans, a new cell phone and the stepfather posted photos with stacks of $50 bills in his mouth,” says Wilson. Wilson believes Rudd is alive and her appearance maybe altered. “Her hair could be cut off and she could be made to look like a boy. She could be as close as two blocks away from home or she could be across the country.”
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, with hubs in Maryland, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and California. Though we often associate it with immigrants, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, the majority of sex trafficking victims in this country are U.S. citizens—with 40 percent of the victims being Black.
“I’m going to continue to hang on to hope. Until you bring me a body, this little girl is out there,” says Wilson. “When we find her, I can promise you we will not let any person or agency fail her again. ”
Learn more at Tiffany E. Browne’s Ebony article: Relisha Rudd and the Horrors of Human Trafficking.