HOUSTON — Missing for more than 40 years, the daughter of a couple found murdered in Houston has been found alive and well, according to investigators. The new Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit with the Texas Attorney General’s Office made the announcement Thursday morning.
It's a story that KHOU 11's Xavier Walton reported on in January and continued to follow.
Their daughter, now 40-year-old Holly Marie Clouse, was found in Oklahoma where she is the mother of five children. Holly vanished after her parents, Dean and Tina Linn Clouse, were found murdered in a rural part of Houston on January 12, 1981.
The couple’s identification was determined earlier this year using advanced DNA techniques underwritten by podcast producer audiochuck.
With the help of counterparts in three states, an exhaustive search for records of the missing child finally led them to Oklahoma and Holly Marie, now a mother of five.
OAG Senior Counsel Mindy Montford and Det. Craig Holloman with Lewisville Police Department, where the young couple was last seen by family members, arrived at Holly’s place of employment Tuesday, June 7, on what would have been her father Dean’s 63rd birthday.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, shocking new information about where Holly's been all these years was released.
"Baby Holly was left at a church in Arizona and raised by a family who had nothing to do with her disappearance," First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said. "Two women who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group brought Holly to the church. They were wearing white robes and were barefoot."
A member of the group who called herself "Sister Susan" later called the victims' families and said she had their car and wanted to return it in exchange for money.
Three women traveled to Daytona with the car and were questioned by police but apparently not charged.
Webster said members of the group traveled around the Southwest and believes in the separation of male and female church members. They said they'd previously dumped another baby at a laundromat.
The investigation into the deaths of Dean and Tina Linn Clouse remains open.
"We still are looking for suspects in this case," said with the Texas Attorney General's Office.
Reunited with new found families
Hours after getting the startling news, Holly was reunited online with her family members on both sides. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children will pay for Holly to fly to Florida to visit them.
Those relatives expressed gratitude to all involved.
“The whole family slept well last night. The Hope For Holly Project was a success thanks to the Texas Cold Case Unit,” Cheryl Clouse, Holly’s aunt, said.
“I believe Tina is finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family,” Sherry Green, another aunt, said.
Green dreamed of her sister Tina after meeting her long-lost niece in the video meeting hosted by Montford and her team.
How the mystery was solved
In an effort to help locate Holly after her parents were identified, FHD Forensics launched the Hope For Holly DNA Project in her honor and became the custodian of the genetic profiles of several of Holly's family members.
Founder of FHD Forensics and one of the genealogists involved in identifying Holly’s parents, Allison Peacock praised her family for never giving up.
“They’ve spent the past six months with me digging through records, gathering photos for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s age progression portrait, and documenting memories of Holly and her parents in an effort to help law enforcement,” Peacock said.
“Allison is forever our angel in helping us through this whole heartbreaking experience,” Donna Casasanta, Dean’s mother, said.
“What matters is that Holly was found happy and alive and now knows that she has a huge extended family that has loved her for decades,” Peacock said.
Due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing criminal investigation, additional information about Holly’s childhood and separation from her parents is not available at this time.
Anyone with information about the disappearance and murder of Dean “Junior” Clouse and his wife, Tina Linn Clouse is asked to contact Sgt. Rachel Kading at the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-936-0742.
“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.” Texas Attorney General Paxton said.