Although her whereabouts have been unknown for nearly two decades, a Thursday night “service of hope” at St Peter’s Rock Baptist Church here provided ample evidence that Cleashindra Hall is alive, safe and secure in the hearts of her family, friends and supporters.
“Yes, she is,” assured her mother, Laurell Hall, at the occasion marking the 19th anniversary of her daughter’s 1994 disappearance. At the time, Cleashindra Hall was a Watson Chapel High School senior who dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. The mystery remains unsolved and no trace of the woman who would now be 37 has been found, but her family remains strong in its faith that somehow, someday she’ll return and no questions will remain unanswered.
Her father, Willie Hall, said their trust in God and one another fuels their ability to persist. It is that shared reliance, he said, that allows them to ward off the pangs of uncertainties and new disappointments that sometimes disrupt their collective path.
His wife agrees, but admits that the passage of time is taking a challenging toll on her.
“I still think of Cleashindra as she was when she disappeared,” Laurell Hall said. “But when I see my grandkids, I realize that the days are turning into years.”
She knows she can never regain that time with her only daughter.
The annual church service serves a double purpose, Laurell Hall said.
“It’s easy for us to remember her,” she said of her daughter, “but we want her community to remember her, too.”
In turn, the public’s response in attending the yearly program and participating in a release of helium-filled, pink balloons as a tribute to Cleashindra Hall increases her family’s fortitude. This year’s event attracted about 65 persons, including Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks, who was recognized and applauded.
The Halls said it’s always uplifting to hear of the recovery of missing persons elsewhere, because that’s the type of occurrence that renews their belief in their daughter’s future homecoming. This week’s rescue of three Cleveland women who had been missing for up to a decade was especially pleasing, Laurell Hall said, because the victims in that instance “have been found alive” and because such cases help people here “to remember Cleashindra.”
Laurell Hall said she still feels that “someone knows something” that could make a difference in regard to her daughter.
“If anybody knows anything,” she said, “no matter how small it might seem, it’s important.”