Creative, stubborn, loving, eccentric, compassionate
Arika was described by her sister as spunky, stubborn, and full of fun. She was open- minded, accepting, loving and the sweetest, kindest, most ornery person. She liked weird things like pickle juice and vinegar and was silly, dramatic and loved playing pranks. She was determined in everything she did. She loved sports, particularly softball, and despite her small stature, she also excelled in basketball. She was tiny, but mighty.
Arika was also artistic and drew a little of everything from a portrait of the Addams Family to Marilyn Monroe and Bob Marley, and drawings of flowers, dependent on her mood. She was into music, hair and makeup and supportive of other people. She was always welcoming and took care of family and friends. She was definitely someone you wanted on your side.
She would never take no for an answer, Arika could get what she wanted, usually through presenting facts to support her arguments, or to disprove the arguments of others; she would have made an excellent attorney. She would often do creative things to make people laugh, even now when lights flicker the family jokes that it is Arika trying to cause a scene and keep you on your toes.
After her father, a local firefighter, died suddenly of a heart attack when Arika was 15, she began struggling with a lot of issues and later started using drugs. “I think she was just trying to numb herself,” her mother said. Arika started Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School, but during active addiction, she dropped out. She had various other jobs, working construction or at restaurants as a hostess. She had strong family ties with her mother and sisters, Ashley and Chloe, and loved spending special time with her niece and nephew.
As Arika’s illness progressed, her family became more concerned about her safety and feared losing her. She consistently stayed in touch so when no one heard from her for over a week, the family filed a missing person’s report. Local police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshall’s office are involved, but after nearly five years, Arika’s case remains open; she has never been found.
After time spent researching best practices, and learning about the disease of addiction and treatment options, Arika’s sister Ashley, opened AVO Behavioral Health, in Canton, Ohio, to provide the type of treatment that she wished Arika could have received. The name of the clinic comes from the Latin phrase Amor Vincit Omnia, which translates to Love Conquers All. Ashley states, “We love every patient that walks in here; you have to love people where they are or you shouldn’t be in this field.” ‘With any loss there is denial, hope and sadness,’ Ashley said. ‘Arika’s positive attributes and strength are honored at AVO. Every day, her light shines through this project. Knowing that Arika’s life had such a big purpose, helps me get through each day.’
Arika’s sister, Ashley Collins, provided the information for this narrative.
December 4, 1993- missing since February 5, 2016
Age 23 at time she went missing-Lived with addiction 4 years