Editor’s note: New activity in the investigation of Cleashindra Hall’s disappearancei n 1994 is the No. 7 story on The Commercial’s Top 10 list for 2012.
On March 29, 2012 — nearly 18 years after a Pine Bluff woman disappeared just days before her high school graduation — the search for Cleashindra Hall took police to the last place she was seen.
Police spend most of the day searching a house at 5309 Faucett Road and an adjacent house, both owned by Larry Amos, who employed Hall, then 18, to do clerical work. She was last seen at the house on May 9, 1994.
An affidavit for a search warrant signed by Pine Bluff Police Department Lt. Bob Rawlinson said “recently obtained sworn and unsworn statements link Dr. Amos to the disappearance of Cleashindra Hall. Sworn statements indicate the observance of a false wall inside the residence containing blood on the insulation. Also statements indicate that the body was buried on the property at 5309 Faucett Road in a hole where bricks/rocks and powdered concrete was used to cover up something.”
No body was found in the house but police did recover four items of evidence that, according to the inventory list prepared by police, were recovered from the west wall of the living room. Rawlinson said during a press conference that the evidence would be sent to the State Crime Laboratory at Little Rock for analysis.
No arrests were made and police declined to name Amos as a suspect or a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Hall.
The case took a different turn when it was revealed on May 8 that those items of evidence were not sent to the crime lab until that day, contradicting statements by Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones, who said during a city council meeting May 7 that “the forensics have not come back yet, there’s nothing we can do until they come back. We call the Crime Lab at least once a week and they have not got to it yet.”
At another city council meeting in early June, Davis-Jones said the crime lab had indicated that tests on the evidence from the Amos house were negative for blood and the evidence would be sent to another section of the crime lab for DNA testing. There have been no further statements made by police regarding whether that was done, and what the results were.
Meanwhile, an internal investigation into why the evidence in the Hall case sat at the police department for more than a month before being sent to the crime lab resulted in a five-day suspension for Crime Scene Technician Cathy Ruhl, who collected the items from the Amos house.
Davis-Jones also suspended Rawlinson, who was the lead detective in the case until he was reassigned to night shift patrol supervisor on April 8, for three days. That suspension was overturned by a civilian review panel that replaced the Civil Service Commission after the council voted to eliminate it.