'Every day goes by, (and) she's still in my heart'
Grandmother longs for girl gone nearly 10 years
MT. MORRIS TOWNSHIP
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
By Ron Fongerrfonger@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6317
MT. MORRIS TWP. - Maybe Coral P. Hall has made a new life somewhere far from the broken home she came from in Flint.
But not knowing - nearly 10 years after the 14-year-old disappeared - still haunts her grandmother, who has waited all that time for any scrap of information.
"I'm getting old," Lois Janish, 68, said from the edge of her bed last week. "And I would love to see my granddaughter.
"There hasn't been a day (since she left) that I don't cry. Every day goes by, (and) she's still in my heart."
Hall's disappearance from her grandmother's apartment in Flint on Sept. 22, 1998, seems as much an unsolved mystery today as it was then. The few leads have only grown colder.
Janish reported Coral missing the day after she turned 14. The girl had said she was going to an upstairs apartment to return a book and never came home.
Coral's case remains open at the Flint Police Department because the former McKinley Middle School student has never been accounted for.
"We keep these things open until we find an answer, (but) I don't have anything new on Miss Hall or her whereabouts," said Flint police Sgt. Lee Kahan.
Janish said she still can't be sure why Hall left, but she said her granddaughter was increasingly in trouble for skipping school, rebelling against rules and hanging out with friends who were drug users.
Born at the former Flint Osteopathic Hospital on Sept. 21, 1984, Coral was raised by Janish after a Genesee County Probate Court judge found her mother, Sharon A. Jones, was unable to care for her infant daughter.
Jones died of a drug overdose Dec. 23, 1996.
Court documents list Coral's father as unknown, and Janish said she believes her granddaughter may have left Flint to try to find her father.
A report Janish filed with the court years before Jones' death said the little girl had one unmet need: "To hear from her mother more often (than) she has called. She doesn't call often."
Missing persons Web sites, such as www.michigandoes.com, say Coral may have been in the company of an adult male in the Los Angeles area after she ran away.
Coral's aunt, Tamie Gatica, said she believes her niece left the area with a boyfriend as soon as she was able because of the poverty she grew up in and she had been left alone by her parents.
Janish said she was forced to move frequently and worked several jobs to support herself and Coral. The pair used food stamps and shopped for clothes at Goodwill stores to stay afloat.
Court records show Coral bounced from the Atherton School District's Head Start program to Van Y Elementary School in Burton, Randels Elementary in the Carman-Ainsworth School District, then to Washington Elementary and McKinley Middle School, both in Flint.
Gatica said Coral's life wasn't easy, and she became more aware of and frustrated with her circumstances as she grew older. Her relatives said Coral was bright but also was withdrawn and angry.
"I didn't really consider her missing, (but) she's not contacted anyone (since)," Gatica said. "I really believe she left with (a) boyfriend because she couldn't take it here anymore."
Gatica said Coral knew she was headed to foster care if she stayed because she had missed so much school.
"She was just this skinny little ... girl," Gatica said. "She didn't fit in (and) had nobody to turn to."
Gatica said she believes Coral is still alive but has no interest in returning to the rough life she lived here.
Janish said she worries about what might have happened in the past nine-plus years and only wants to know her granddaughter is all right.
"I've lost three kids, and now my granddaughter is missing, and I would love (for) her to get in contact with me," Janish said. "Maybe she's so mad at me - I don't know -but I would love to make up. I would love to get her back in my life."
Lois Janish talks about her granddaughter, Coral P. Hall, who has been missing for nearly 10 years. Go to mlive.com/flintjournal/and click on the audio link.
Is she out there?
Fourteen-year-old Coral P. Hall vanished from Flint on Sept. 22, 1998. Her grandmother and an aunt say they have not heard from her since. She would be 23 years old today.
The Web site www.michigandoes.com lists Hall as "endangered missing" as do a number of other organizations that track the status of missing persons.
Information about the whereabouts of Hall can be reported to Flint police Sgt. Lee Kahan at (810) 237-6821 or (810) 237-6823. http://www.mlive.com/flint/stories/index.s...0760.xml&coll=5