Mother’s Day just hasn’t been the same for Laurell Hall for more than two decades. 

As her family celebrates, she is reminded of the ever present fact her daughter Cleashindra isn’t there. This year marked 23 years since she last spoke with her daughter, and she’s been searching ever since.

“When my family gets together for Mother’s Day, we all think about her.” Laurell told Dateline. “My grandchildren will always ask — where is Aunt Clea? And I get tears in my eyes, because I don’t know the answer.”

In May of 1994, Cleashindra, whom everyone calld Clea, was two weeks away from graduating high school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She had big plans for the future. The honor student landed a summer internship at a Boston pediatrician’s office and had been accepted into the pre-med program at Tennessee State University.

“Clea was so excited to go college,” Laurell Hall told Dateline. “She was always playing with children, and it was her dream to become a pediatrician.”

But Clea never attended her graduation ceremony. Clea never started classes that fall.

Because on May 9, 1994 — Clea vanished.

At 5:00 p.m. that evening, Laurell dropped her daughter off at work a few blocks away from their home. She worked in the home of Dr. Larry Amos, who ran a non-profit charitable organization that supported in-home daycare centers.

At 8:00 p.m. that evening, Laurell got a phone call from her daughter.

“Did anyone try to call me?” Clea asked.

Her mother responded “No,” and Clea hung up. That was the last time she spoke to her daughter.

Around 12:45 a.m., Laurell’s husband Willie came home and found his wife asleep on the couch. Then he checked Clea’s room and realized she hadn’t come home.

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Source: NBC News | Jane Herman