After years of domestic abuse, Tamron Hall's sister Renate was found dead in her pool and her killer still walks free

By Janine Rubenstein
Updated April 06, 2016 02:00 PM
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Allison Michael Orenstein

It’s been over a decade since MSNBC and Today anchor Tamron Hall laid her older sister Renate to rest. Following years of relationships with abusive men, in 2004 Renate’s body was found brutally beaten, floating face down in the small backyard pool of her home in Houston, Texas – a tragedy Hall says still resonates with her to this day.

“It hasn’t shaped my life, but it’s given me courage I didn’t know I had,” Hall, 45, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. After years of keeping her family’s pain private, the journalist decided to share her sister’s story in hopes of helping others.

Still, Hall says her sister’s ordeal has had lasting effects on her personal life. “I’ve been engaged a couple times,” she admits. “Thank God no one was abusive, but [my sister’s situation] makes me cautious.”

When it comes to her near-trips down the aisle, “I never bought a dress, but I was close, in Vegas and another time in Cozumel,” she says, “I chickened out both times.”

Aside from her sister’s situation, “I have an incredible phobia of divorce,” says Hall. That, along with the growing demands of her career, is why Hall says she hasn’t settled down. “I’m sad about it some days,” she says.

For more on Tamron Hall’s family heartbreak and how she found peace and success after tragedy, pick up this week’s issue of People, on stands Friday

“I know it’s rare to have a single woman on morning TV who doesn’t have a child, and I’m Black!” Hall says with a laugh. “But I love my job.”

Hall hasn’t given up on finding similar success in her personal life. “I date, don’t get me wrong,” she says. “I’m not up here filing my fingernails on a Friday night. I want to find someone to share my life with.”

And she wants a family. “I’ve not given up on having a child. But I hope whatever route of parenthood I choose, whether it’s adoption or I’m able to conceive, I just hope that I’m able to give someone as beautiful a life as my parents gave me.”