Transcript: 129. The Day Clea Hall Vanished | USA

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At 45 minutes past midnight on the 10th of May 1994, Willie Hall made his usual rounds around his quiet home while his family was asleep. He always checked on all four of his children when he came home and was surprised when 18-year-old Clea wasn’t in her bed.

Willie made his way to where his wife, Laurell, was sleeping in bed, still with her book on her chest. He shook her gently and asked if Clea was still at work. He knew Laurell was waiting for Clea to call from her after-school job, so she could go and pick her up. Laurell was confused and jolted up when she saw how late it was. She told Willie she never heard from Clea and they called her boss straight away.

Clea worked at the home-office of Dr Larry Amos, and he said she signed out at 8:30 the night before. He assumed she left with one of her parents had come to pick her up, because he heard a car door slam outside.

Willie and Laurell tried to reason their way through the panic: Clea was in her senior year – two weeks away from graduating. All her hard work had paid off when she was accepted to Tennessee State University, where she hoped to major in pre-medicine. It was about time she let her hair down and be a little irresponsible. Although it was out of character for Clea, her mom felt she was pushing the boundaries of her independence.

Laurell decided to wait up for her daughter, and the hours dragged by. As the first rays of sun shone through the window, Clea was not home yet. In fact, Clea would never come home again…

>>Intro Music

Cleashindra Denise Hall was born on the 30th of March 1976 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Willie and Laurell Hall had four kids and Cleashindra, or Clea as everyone called her, was their only daughter. The Halls was a tight-knit family, and the parents supported their kids and wanted only the best opportunities for them.

Growing up, Clea spent time with friends or her brothers: she had one older brother and two younger ones, and they had loads of fun together. As a teen she always minded smaller kids and loved helping them and playing with them. She looked forward to going to church, where she volunteered in the nursery.

In 1994, Clea was a senior at Watson Chapel High School, where she ranked highest in her class. Although she was a bookworm who took a lot of pride in her schoolwork, she had many friends and was popular. Her mom, Laurell, remember her as a typical teenager who loved talking on the phone, reading and singing in the school choir and also the church choir. Clea also played in the marching band with her younger brother.

Because of her love for children, she dreamed of becoming a paediatrician. And everything was going according to the plan: Clea was accepted into Tennessee State University’s pre-med programme, starring in the fall of 1994. For the upcoming summer, Clea had landed an internship in Boston, at a paediatrician’s office.

In her junior year, one of Clea’s school friends, Erica, asked her if she was looking for a part-time job. The friend used to work for 43-year-old Dr Larry Amos, who ran a non-profit charitable programme, allocating resources for in-home daycare centres. When Erica decided to find another job, Dr Amos asked if she could find a replacement.

To Clea, the job sounded perfect: it was after hours, only five blocks away from her home, and the work was easy enough. Although Dr Amos was a psychiatrist, not a medical doctor, the clerical work at Arkansas Federal Child Care Nutrition and Educational Services Inc was an excellent introduction to a working office. She was expected to keep track of grant applications and had to keep correspondence up to date. She wrote cheques and posted letters and made sure the books balanced.

Before giving Clea the green light to accept the job, Laurell and Willie Hall asked a couple of people about Dr Larry Amos, and no one had anything to say about him. Clea’s parents didn’t see this as a bad thing, as they concluded Dr Amos – at the very least – did not have a bad reputation. They agreed that she could take the job, providing she did not neglect her schoolwork or church commitments.

In May 1994, Clea had been working for Dr Amos for about a year. Clea’s job became a part of the Hall family’s routine. Either Laurell or Willie dropped her at Amos’ home office on Faucett Road, Pine Bluff. When she was done, usually around 8:30pm, she’d call home, and someone, mostly Laurell, would go and collect her. Laurell didn’t want to use the horn and disturb Dr Amos’ family and neighbours, so Clea always kept an eye out for her mom, waiting in the kitchen. When she saw the car pull up, she went through the garage, pressed the button for the automatic door to open. Then she would push it again and zipped out before it closed.

Although Amos’s home was within walking distance of the Hall residence, Clea’s parents did not want her to walk home. The Atlanta child murders haunted most parents at the time, and it was better to be safe than sorry. They were very protective of their family knew where all four of their kids were at all times.

The first week of May was an exciting time. The class of 94 was preparing for senior prom. Clea had her nails and hair extensions done, and her dress was exactly the way she’d always wanted it. Friday night, the 6th of May was one of the best nights of Clea’s life.

The next day there was not a lot of time to reminisce, as she had to attend a sorority ball that Saturday night. The next day was Mother’s Day. It was a busy weekend for sure, just the way Clea liked it. She only had two more weeks of high school left, and there was no holding back.

Monday, May 9th, was like any other Monday. Laurell made breakfast for all of her kids and then took everyone to school. Because Clea was a senior, she was permitted to leave early for work. Her mom picked her up from school to start work at 2:30, but no one was there when they arrived at the Amos home. Clea went home with her mom for a bit and, still exhausted after her busy weekend, fell asleep on the couch.

Shortly before 5pm Dr Amos’ wife, Patricia, called and said they were home. She apologised that they were late – Patricia was a teacher and got stuck at school. Laurell said it was okay and woke Clea up. The 18-year-old wiped the sand out of her eyes and stumbled to the car. Minutes later, Laurell dropped Clea off at 5309 Faucett Road – about a mile away from the Hall family home.

Clea wore a white blouse with navy stripes and white shorts with navy polka dots. She had white socks and sneakers on and wore her hair up in a ponytail with a white bow. Without a purse or anything, she flitted across the driveway and disappeared into the home. Laurell watched her daughter entering Dr Amos’ house, not knowing that this would be the last time she ever saw her.

At 8pm the phone in the Hall home rang. Laurell picked up the phone at the same time as her son picked up in another room. It was Clea, and she asked if anyone had called for her, her brother said no, and they hung up. This wasn’t unusual, as 1994 was in the days before everyone had a cell phone with them. Laurell sat down to read while she waited for Clea to call so she could pick her up.

Willie Hall found Laurell asleep just before 1am. He had checked Clea’s room, and she wasn’t there, so he asked if she was still at work. Laurell was sleepy and confused and realised her daughter never called. She rushed to Clea’s bedroom, to check, but as Willie said, she wasn’t there. It was strange because the latest Clea had ever stayed at work was 10pm.

In a panic, Laurell decided to call Dr Amos. She’d never had to call him before and had to look up the number. She found the number for the office, and even though it was in the middle of the night, he picked up after the first ring. Dr Amos told Laurell that Clea left work at 8:30pm when her ride arrived. She had signed out, and he saw her looking out the window two or three times. Then, Amos claimed, he heard Clea leaving through the garage like she always did – the automatic door went up and down. Dr Amos said he did not see the person who picked her up, nor did he see the car, he assumed she had left with her mother.

Her mom was confused – she was Clea’s ride. No one else was supposed to pick her up that night. And if a friend had picked her up, where was she – and why didn’t she let them know? Dr Amos’s home-office was only a couple of blocks away from the Hall residence, she would have been home in a matter of minutes if she had caught a lift. Laurell fell asleep just before 10pm, waiting for her daughter to call. The phone didn’t ring during that time, and Clea did not show up either.

Laurell tried to calm herself down and thought that perhaps Clea decided to let her hair down for once. She was 18 after all, and two weeks away from graduating. But then again… Clea always came home. Because it was so unusual for Clea to stay away without calling, Laurell and Willie called the police. Police weren’t overly concerned, and because Clea was 18, she had the right to stay out late if she wanted to. When Laurell insisted that Clea had never simply stayed out, especially not on a weeknight, police advised that Laurell should wait 24 hours, and if Clea hadn’t shown up by then, they could report her missing.

Laurell waited up and thought about what she’d say to Clea when she came home. She couldn’t really ground her, but she was still living at home – she was expected to respect her parents enough to check-in. Why hadn’t she called? Laurell felt uneasy, but she still expected to see her daughter walk through the door. Then daylight broke, and there was still no sign of Clea. Laurell had the nauseating feeling that everything was not okay. Both Willie and Laurell hoped that their daughter had gone straight to school from wherever she spent the night.

Clea’s brother went to school with strict instructions to look for her. He called home and told his parents that Clea wasn’t at band practice. Some band members had gone to another school to perform, and perhaps Clea had gone with them. A short while later, her brother called home again and informed his concerned parents that his sister wasn’t with the band and had not shown up to the first period. Clea was a diligent student who never skipped school – where was she?

Laurell and Willie called everyone they knew and waited till school was out to call Clea’s friends. They briefly spoke to Dr Amos again, who had called to ask if they had any news/ Larry Amos’s wife, Patricia, said that she found it odd that Clea left without telling her or Larry – she would usually say goodbye. But that Monday night, Clea just left.

Clea’s parents waited for the mandatory 24 hours to pass, then went to Pine Bluff police at 5pm to file a missing persons’ report. Although Clea was still a school student living at home, she was 18 years old and regarded as an adult. Police thought she left on her own accord and did not feel the case was urgent. Laurell and Willie tried to explain that Clea never stayed out late and abided by her parents’ curfew. The family had no problems or issues, and Clea had never left home before. They knew that she did not run away, she had too much going on in her life – positive things. Besides, Clea left her purse with her driver’s license and money at home. When Laurell dropped her off, she did not have anything with her.

Police went to the Halls’ home and looked through Clea’s things. They saw her diary and were impressed that a teenager could be so organised. She had noted all her work shifts and other appointments until the end of the school year. It didn’t take much to conclude Clea was not a run-away. She was a wholesome young lady from a loving family who had a bright future ahead of her.

Dr Amos was also questioned, and he repeated the basic story he told Clea’s mom. But his statement was slightly different this time. When Clea left, he said that she had a can of peach pop in her hand, that his wife had given her. When police asked if they could come over to look through the home-office, however, he said that he was going to Dallas on a business trip and would prefer to be home if they came. So they arranged to meet up when he returned.

In the meantime, police discovered that there was a young man from church whom Clea liked. He was an army reservist and somewhat older than her. They were friendly, but they weren’t dating. Investigators searched his car but did not find anything that could help in tracking down Clea. He agreed to take a polygraph test, and the results were inconclusive. His name had never been made public.

He told police an interesting story, though. One night, he went to Faucett Road to pick Clea up after work and went inside. Dr Larry Amos did not like this one bit and told Clea that he did not allow ‘courting’ at work. Clea assured him that they were just friends, but that didn’t appease the fuming Amos.

Four days after Clea was last seen, police finally gained access to her place of work. They did not have a search warrant, so it was not a comprehensive search. Instead, they had a quick look around and could not see any signs of a struggle. They pressed the redial button on the office phone and reached someone by the name of Smith. There was some confusion as to who the person was, as Amos said he had no idea.

A couple of days after police visited the Amos home office, Laurell was outside her house, talking to a friend. Dr Amos drove passed and saw her, so he stopped to ask about Clea. He claimed that police were looking for information and explained that the last number called from the phone in the home office was to someone named Smith. Amos had ‘Smith’s’ number written on a piece of paper and said he didn’t recognise the number, but if Laurell knew, she should inform the police.

Clea’s family didn’t know who it was. As it turned out, the number was that of a babysitter who looked after Amos’ 4-year-old son. The sitter had been minding the young Amos since he was born, so why would Dr Amos say he didn’t recognise the number? It was bizarre, to say the least. How could he not know his son’s babysitter of four years? And why would Clea have called the sitter?

The fact that police assumed the last call was made by Clea also baffled the Halls. Three days had passed since Clea had been in the office. Amos was sitting next to the phone when Laurell called at 1am the night Clea vanished. He could have made many calls. His wife also had access to the phone – she was the most likely person who would have called the babysitter.

Police did follow up further regarding the phone calls. They went through the phone records from the office, but could not find anything that would help in finding Clea.

Three theories about what happened to Clea had to be considered. The first was that she decided to walk home without informing her mom and that she was abducted along the way. Clea had only ever walked home once, and that was with one of her brothers. It was summer, so it was still light out, but she knew her parents wouldn’t be happy with her walking home by herself. She knew her mother was waiting for her call, why would she change the arrangement and not tell anyone?

Another, less likely possibility was that she had run away. But she had no reason to leave, and she had no money or identification with her. She never accessed her banking account, and there were no reported sightings of her.

The theory most people leaned towards was that she never left the Amos home that night.  As the days dragged by without any sign of Clea, her family grew increasingly frustrated with Dr Amos. He was not helping with the search effort at all, he showed little sympathy and avoided the Halls. From the start, they found it strange that he didn’t cancel his business trip to Dallas. Laurell openly questioned Amos’ reluctance to help. In many interviews, she said that if someone’s child went missing in her home, she would leave no stone unturned. That is how the majority of people would feel.

The reason for the business-trip is also a bit murky. Amos said that he wanted to buy equipment from a tanning salon that had gone bust. However, no one who worked for Amos recalled the equipment ever being delivered. Nor do they remember the doctor ever talking about opening a salon.

When he came back to Pine Bluff, the Halls got the distinct feeling he was avoiding them. All they wanted to do was talk to him, as he was the last person who saw their daughter. He dodged their calls and only called back when he knew they weren’t home. Like on Wednesdays, when he knew they were at church. He’d leave a message saying he had some time if they wanted to come over, knowing full well they wouldn’t get the message till much later.

When police asked Dr Amos to take a polygraph test, he refused. Even though a polygraph is inadmissible in court, and perhaps not the most trusted investigative tool, it does serve a purpose. If someone has nothing to hide, they have no reason to refuse it. If it could eliminate you from an investigation, why would you NOT want to take one? Unless, of course, you are afraid of what it could reveal…

An article printed in a local newspaper shortly after Clea’s disappearance, claims that Larry Amos asked police to involve Federal and State officials in the search for Clea. However, the Pine Bluff Police Department police did not want to make it appear incapable of handling the case themselves. Was this Larry Amos’ attempt to make it look like he was involved in Clea’s search?

And his behaviour continued to astonish the Hall family. Clea’s dad, Willie, saw the doctor remove Clea’s ‘missing’ posters from lamp posts around the neighbourhood. One of the Halls’ friends also told them that Amos had paid her son and his friends to take down flyers.

Two weeks after Clea’s disappearance, her graduation ceremony took place at Watson Chapel High School. The class of 94 placed a bow on Clea’s chair, and all the students wore pink ribbons in honour of Clea. This was done at her parents’ request, but Willie and Laurell did not want to attend because the teachers refused at first. However, Clea’s younger brother was there, and he was touched by the gesture.

By this time police were convinced Clea did not leave town on her own accord. They believed she was taken by someone she knew and trusted and that she was no longer alive. It was impossible to say if Clea ever left the Amos home that night. And if she had, it was equally difficult to determine who had picked her up. Despite many appeals to the public for information, no one has come forward to say that they saw Clea or knew of someone who offered her a ride.

Because the police did not act in full force during the first hours or days of the case, crucial evidence could have been lost or destroyed. Investigators visited Clea’s school and established that she was a good student who stayed out of trouble. However, they did not question Clea’s classmates extensively and did not even look at her school locker’s contents. When the school year was done, school administrators called the police and asked if they needed the contents – and the police came and took it.

A local radio DJ started up a fund to make donations towards a reward or help fund the search effort. However, when Clea’s family followed up, they realised that he had cashed all the cheques. They felt embarrassed to continue asking for donations, seeing as some well-intentioned supporters had been conned. The DJ has since passed away, so the Hall family will never really know what happened to all the donations. It was a low blow for a family in trauma.

However, they could not give up their efforts to find their daughter and sister. As spring rolled into summer, everyone was still looking for Clea: family, friends, the church community. Laurell and Willie’s helpers distributed flyers and posters throughout Pine Bluff, Little Rock and other surrounding towns. Homes, businesses and trees were decorated with pink ribbons, a symbol to remind people of the missing teenager.

Pine Bluff PD sent detectives throughout Arkansas and neighbouring states, looking for Clea, or clues that could help in the investigation, but they came up empty-handed.

Laurell was desperate to find her daughter and scoured the woods across from the Amos home, with the help of some church friends. She was guilt-ridden and could not forgive herself for falling asleep. In the days after Clea went missing, Laurell had a dream. In the dream, Clea was sitting in Dr Amos’ bathtub with her hands tied up, crying out for her mom to help her. This dream has haunted her over the years. Of course, one cannot read too much into a dream. It was a stressful time for the family and Laurell’s subconscious must have imagined even worse. Still, something in Laurell’s mother’s gut made her feel uneasy about her daughter’s employer.

Clea’s family brought a sniffer dog to Amos’ property on Faucett Road, hoping to trace her last movements. They wanted to see if she did walk home as her co-worker had said. Or did her trail only go to the kerb, where she got into a car? However, Amos refused access to his property. He said to Laurell that he did not want to talk to psychics. Laurell was lost – what did he mean by that? Amos pointed to a car, with the registration ESP1. The vehicle belonged to Laurell’s friend, who was not a clairvoyant, it was a random registration number. Either way, it was enough reason for Amos to ask them to leave and take the sniffer dog with them.

Many journalists attempted to speak to Amos over the years. In the beginning, he gave a couple of vague statements but then refused to talk any further. In the third statement to police, he also said that he never saw Clea leaving, he only heard the garage door open and close. This contradicted his previous accounts of Clea looking out of the kitchen window, then leaving, still with a can of pop in her hand. He has never explained why he does not want to cooperate, and his attitude has made him guilty in the community’s eyes.

Larry Amos was the last person to see Clea. There was a sense that Dr Amos knew more than he was saying. The fact that he wasn’t overly co-operative with police made him even more suspicious. He has not done much to eliminate himself from the investigation. Police visited his home-office three days after Clea’s disappearance and concluded that nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary – there was no evidence that a struggle had taken place. Laurell felt that Dr Amos would have had ample time to clean up and hide evidence had he done something to harm Clea.

Online sleuths speculate whether Larry Amos’ son from his first marriage could have had something to do with Clea’s disappearance. Omar Amos was in his 20s at the time, not much older than Clea. Although Omar did not reside at the Faucett Roadhouse, he was often seen there. In later years, Omar was arrested for assaulting a female victim. This brought about dark suspicions, with people asking questions about Omar’s past and his connection to Clea. Did he attack her when she rebuffed his advances? Did his father discover an unplanned crime and helped him to clean up?

Sadly, Omar himself was the victim of foul play in July 2020, when he was shot and killed in his home – five miles away from his father’s property on Faucett Road. His involvement in Clea’s case is purely based on speculation, and he was never a person of interest in the investigation.

Laurell met with Larry Amos’ first wife and asked her if she thought Amos had it in him to hurt someone. The ex-wife admitted that she left him because of his violent temper. In fact, when she pressured him to pay child support, he threatened her life. Laurell told police about her conversation with Amos’ ex, but they felt she was a bitter ex-wife and her statement was not useful to their case.

Throughout the years, Amos went to work, feverishly renovating the house on Faucett Road. All in all, about eight rounds of renovations were completed over 18 years. And because of all the work he had done around the place, some information came to light. In March 2012, on a documentary made for Oxygen, ‘Find Our Missing’, two people came forward with startling information.

The tipsters were construction workers who had done work at the Amos home after Clea went missing. They went to the police to tell them what they had told the TV-journalists. One of the men said Amos contracted him to remove an inside wall to install a fireplace. When he removed the sheetrock, he noticed dark spots on the insulation. He said that it looked ‘like it had been splattered on the insulation.’

Another construction worker said Amos asked him to fill a hole in the backyard. He claimed that:

“…when the wind would blow he could smell an odour, unlike anything he has ever smelled before.”

He also noticed a lot of flies around the area in the backyard.

Based on these statements, police executed a search warrant for the house of Dr Amos. They used ground radar, sniffer dogs in an all-day search. Dr Amos looked on from the front lawn where a crowd gathered. At one point police asked onlookers to move back, and they moved a block away. Forensic examiners took insulation and drywall as evidence. They also had four of bags with evidence, but no one knew what was inside.

When Laurell and Willie followed up with police, they learnt that the evidence had never been forwarded to the lab for testing. This was more than a month after the search. The bagged evidence was still sitting in the evidence locker at the police station, untested, unlogged.

After two weeks, results came back: there were no traces of blood or any other indication of foul play. After 18 years, the investigation was back to square one.

On the documentary ‘Find our Missing’, Clea’s friend Erica, who had introduced Clea to Dr Amos, said that she also worked at the office that night. Erica claimed that Clea told her she was going to walk home, something she had never done before. What is strange about this story is that Erica had stopped working for Dr Amos one year before. Clea’s mom said Amos was too cheap to pay for two assistants and never believed Erica was there that night. Laurell doesn’t think Erica is hiding anything or knows more, but she does think she remembered the wrong night.

In 2019 local reports speculated that Clea’s disappearance could have been linked to serial killer Samuel Little. Three months before Clea disappeared, Little murdered 26-year-old Pine Bluff resident, Jolanda Jones. Jolanda’s murder was considered to have been related to drugs, but Little confessed to killing her while incarcerated in Texas. Investigators have not confirmed the link between Jolanda’s case and Clea’s case.

Although one cannot exclude the possibility, one also has to be realistic about the facts. Little confessed to committing more than 90 murders between 1970 and 2005. If Little had abducted and killed Clea, chances are that he would have admitted to it. There is also the fact that her remains have never been found. And again, she didn’t fit Little’s typical victim profile. While explaining how he chose his victims, Little said:

“I didn’t go f–king around out there with the people that would be immediately missed, and very important to either family or business or somebody. I’m not going over there in a white neighbourhood and pick out a little young teenage girl like the weirdies do.”

Clea, an honour student about to graduate, going home to a loving family after responsibly working a shift at her part-time job does not fit this profile. The risk would have been too big for Little. Clea’s parents realised she was missing within hours and started looking for her.

The main person of interest, in this case, remains Dr Larry Amos. In the years after Clea vanished, rumours about his questionable business ethics have come out. Some childcare centres told Laurell that if their application had even the smallest error on, Amos would not release their funds. Amos also had another scheme for low-cost housing. But instead of helping out low-income families, he allowed his daughter to live in one of the apartments.

People have described Larry Amos as being cheap and a dodgy businessman. With no one from the Amos family talking, rumours and speculations will keep surfacing, until the truth about what happened to Clea on that May night in 1994 comes out. If he genuinely does not know anything, he has not done much to prove that.

Today, almost 27 years since her disappearance, Clea’s family is still looking for answers. To them, she’ll always be 18 years old, when in fact this year would have been her 45th birthday. Her family founded the Cleashindra Hall Foundation to honour her memory. The foundation provides financial support for Jefferson County high school students who want to pursue a career in medicine.

The Hall family is offering a reward of $5,000 for any information that would lead to finding out what happened to Clea. Each year on Clea’s birthday, March 30th, and on the day she was last seen, the 9th of May, her family and friends release pink balloons to make sure her case is not forgotten.

If you have any information about the case, call Pine Bluff Police or contact the Hall family on the Facebook Group ‘Find Cleashindra Denise Hall’. You can find the information in today’s show notes.

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