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Stark County family asks for woman missing for 5 years to be declared dead

Arika Hall vanished in 2016, police suspect murder
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Posted at 5:17 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 18:46:52-04

CANTON, Ohio — A Stark County family is fighting for answers and closure more than five years after their loved one vanished.

Arika Hall disappeared in February of 2016. She was 22-years-old at the time. Her relatives and police are convinced she was murdered, but her body has never been found.

Through an attorney, Hall's mother, Renee Adams, filed a petition in Stark County Probate Court to have her declared dead.

"It's not easy to grieve whenever we don't have that closure and I don't know if there really is closure," said her sister, Chloe Hall.

Another sister, Ashley Collins, said having Arika Hall declared dead would change the dynamic of the investigation.

"I think she was murdered," Collins said. "I think it's important for people to know that we do have enough evidence to go to court and declare her dead."

Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said the case remains open and he also believes this is a homicide investigation.

"We do think it's a homicide because of some information we have received and the fact that she has completely disappeared," Angelo said. "We've interviewed a lot of people, but never been able to nail down a good suspect."

Her sisters said Hall struggled with drugs, including heroin, but despite her significant drug issues, she remained close with family.

"She always wanted to be around and be funny and she always was the light of the room when she walked in," Collins said.

According to police, Hall was at a home in Canton where a drug raid took place in January 2016. Angelo said Hall was charged with a drug-related offense and carrying a concealed weapon.

A few weeks later, she had a scheduled court date but never showed up.

"We had zero contact. No one has seen her. No phone calls. No nothing," Collins said.

A letter--filed in probate court-- from Angelo to Renee Hall indicates a significant amount of investigative resources were dedicated to the case and it's now being handled as "a death investigation."

Under the law, the family had to wait five years after the disappearance to request the legal presumption of death petition.

While it's a difficult process, Arika Hall's sister believes it's necessary to bring more attention to the search for possible suspects.

"People can say it's just a piece of paper, but it's a really hard pill to swallow," Chloe Hall said. "We're just still fighting for her."

Collins said "a lot of evidence" has been gathered in case, but citing the ongoing investigation, she did not talk specifics.

"It's important to us to find out what happened," she said. "This doesn't mean it's over. It's actually just the beginning."