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, First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said at a news briefing Thursday afternoon.
Since the apparent homicide of the couple that occurred decades ago in Houston, Texas, investigators said the Linn and Clouse families have been searching for answers about baby Holly’s whereabouts and the circumstances surrounding her parents’ deaths.
“I am extremely proud of the exceptional work done by my office’s newly formed Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit. My office diligently worked across state lines to uncover the mystery surrounding Holly’s disappearance. We were successful in our efforts to locate her and reunite her with her biological family,” Paxton said in a news release.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children all contributed to the search for the missing child after the Texas Attorney General built a cold case investigation team in Texas in March 2021.
Holly got to meet her biological extended family virtually for the first time on Tuesday.
“Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven since we found her on Junior’s (her father’s) birthday. I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it... we have found Holly,” Donna Casasanta, Holly’s grandmother, said in a news release. “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.”
Holly’s aunts, Cheryl Clouse and Sherry Linn Green, talked about what it was like to meet their niece for the first time.
“It is such a blessing to be reassured that she is alright and has had a good life. The whole family slept well last night. The Hope for Holly Project was a success thanks to Mindy and her team,” Cheryl Clouse told the Texas attorney general’s office.
Green said she believes Tina Linn Clouse is finally at peace knowing her daughter is reunited with her family.
“The very first thing that ran through my head when we heard Holly was found was the call that I got eight months ago from Allison about my sister’s death,” Les Linn, Holly’s uncle, said in a news release. “The juxtaposition of that call with Holly’s sudden discovery just popped into my head. To go from hoping to find her to suddenly meeting her less than eight months later — how miraculous is that? All of the detectives involved. They all expressed such fortitude to get to the bottom of this case. They have the Linn family’s complete support.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is going to facilitate and fund an upcoming in-person meeting with Holly and her family.
The investigation into Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr.’s deaths, however, is still ongoing.
“While we rejoice today that Holly has been found, and families that were looking for decades rejoice, we still are looking for suspects in this case,” Webster said at Thursday’s briefing.
Webster addressed the fact that “the family that raised Holly are not suspects in this case,” explaining the baby was taken into an Arizona church’s care after two barefoot woman donning white robes who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group brought and left her there.
Investigators said they believe this particular group traveled around the southwestern part of the U.S., including Arizona, California and possibly Texas and that Holly’s parents were a part of them.
According to Webster, Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr. received a called from a “Sister Susan” who told them she wanted to return their car—a 1978 two-door red burgundy AMC Concord—and meet them at the Daytona Racetrack in Florida.
Shortly after that call, Webster said the couple was “likely murdered between December 1980 and January 1981.” Their bodies were found between Jan. 6-11, 1981 off Wallisville Road in Harris County, Texas.
Anyone with information on these deaths is asked to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 512-936-0742.