AUSTIN, Texas – An infant who was declared missing in 1981 after her parents, a Florida couple, were discovered dead in a wooded Texas area was found more than 40 years later by cold case investigators, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday.
Baby Holly, now 42 years old, was located “alive and well” after Identifinders International positively identified the bodies of her parents as Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr. in 2021, investigators said. When the bodies of Tina and Dean were found in the 80s -- they couldn’t be identified. Then, last year, a company that offers DNA services to law enforcement was able to positively identify the bodies.
The murders of Tina and Dean were a cold case mystery for four decades. They were last seen by family in 1980 -- leaving their home in Volusia County so Dean could pursue carpentry work in Texas. Not long after they left, the couple’s car was returned to their family by ”Sister Susan” -- who told the family the couple had joined a religious group and no longer wanted contact.
In 1981, the remains of a couple were found in a wooded area along Wallisville Road in Harris County. Investigators said the couple was likely murdered between December 1980 and early January 1981, News4JAX sister station KPRC in Houston, Texas, reported.
At the time of their deaths, the couple had a one-year-old daughter named Holly, who was not found with her parents’ bodies.
According to a release from the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the victims’ extended families began searching for Holly. She was recently located in Oklahoma on what would have been her father’s birthday.
It remains unclear what fully happened to Holly four decades ago and how she ended up in Oklahoma.
She has reconnected with her biological family. Her grandmother calls it a gift from Heaven.
“Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven since we found her on Junior’s (her father’s) birthday,” Donna Casasanta, Holly’s grandmother, said in a news release. “I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it... we have found Holly. Thank you to all of the investigators for working so hard to find Holly. I prayed for them day after day and that they would find Holly and she would be alright. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mindy Montford. We will be forever grateful.”
The family believes Tina Linn Clouse is finally at peace knowing her daughter is reunited with her family.
Details on the suspects
During Thursday’s press conference, investigators said Holly was dropped off at an Oklahoma church by two women who identified themselves as a nomadic religious group. They were described as wearing white robes and being barefoot. They indicated that their beliefs in religion, including separation of male and female members, practicing vegetarian habits and not using or wearing leather goods.
The women told the church that they have given up a baby before at a laundry mat -- it is believed that this particular group traveled around the southwestern United States, including Arizona, California and possibly Texas. There were sightings of this religious group around the Yuma, Arizona area in the early 80s. The woman members would be seen around town at various points, asking for food.
In late December of 1980, or early January 1981, the families of the Clouses received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as sister Susan.
She explained she was calling from Loa Angelas, California and wanted to return the couple’s car to their family and further stated that Tina and Dean had joined their religious group and no longer wanted to have contact with their families. She said they were also giving up all of their possessions. Sister Susan allegedly asked for money in exchange for returning the car to Florida where the family lived. The family agreed but contacted the police and agreed to meet them. Investigators said two to three women and possibly a man wearing robes showed up at the meeting place where police took them into custody. Investigators said they are still looking for the police report.
Investigators said the family who raised Holly are not suspects in this case.
The investigation into Holly’s biological parents’ death is still ongoing. No arrests have been made.
The investigation into the murders of Holly’s parents remains ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read more about “Baby Holly.”