HOUSTON - More than 40 years after her parents were found murdered in a wooded area of Houston, Holly Marie Clouse has been found alive.
Baby Holly and her parents Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr. had last been seen by family in 1980 before they left their home in Volusia County, Florida so Dean could pursue carpentry work in Texas.
Soon after, the couple's car was returned to their family who was then led to believe the couple had joined a religious group and no longer wanted contact.
Sadly, Tina and Dean, who married in June 1979, became the victims of homicide.
Family photo of Tina Gail Linn, Holly Marie Clouse, and Harold Dean Clouse. Murdered in 1980 and discovered in early 1981, Holly's body was never found. She was found alive 42 years later. (Family photo handout via Identifinders International)
The newlywed couple had been dead approximately two months before their bodies were found on January 12, 1981, when a dog led searchers to their remains. Dean was found beaten, bound and gagged. Tina had been strangled. But they could not be identified at the time.
In October 2021, Identifinders International used genetic genealogy to identify Tina and Dean as the two people who were found in the Houston woods. The couple's young daughter was not found with the remains of the Clouses.
When the Linn and Clouse families, who had been searching for the Clouses since 1980, learned the news, they began looking for answers as to what happened to Baby Holly.
42 years later they have their answer, Holly is alive. She was found on her father Dean's birthday.
OAG Senior Counsel Mindy Montford and Detective Craig Holloman of the Lewisville Police Department, where the young family went missing, arrived at Holly's job Tuesday, on what would have been Dean's 63rd birthday.
Just hours later, the 42-year-old mother of five who lives in Oklahoma was reunited online with her family on both sides.
"Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven since we found her on Junior’s birthday. I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it ... we have found Holly," said Donna Casasanta, Holly's grandmother and Dean's mother.
The Texas AG's office says Holly has now been in contact with her extended biological family.
"After finally being able to reunite with Holly, I dreamed about her and my sister, Tina last night. In my dream, Tina was laying on the floor rolling around and laughing and playing with Holly like I saw them do many times before when they lived with me prior to moving to Texas," said Sherry Linn Green, Holly’s aunt and Tina's sister. I believe Tina's finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family. I personally am so relieved to know Holly is alive and well and was well cared for, but also torn up by it all. That baby was her life."
"It was so exciting to see Holly. I was so happy to meet her 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," said Holly’s aunt and Dean's sister, Cheryl Clouse. "The Hope for Holly Project was a success thanks to Mindy and her team."
The acronym HOPE - Helping Other People Embrace - was coined by Holly's aunt, Theresa Welch, Dean's sister.
Founder of Family History Detectives/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 commented.
"Allison is forever our angel in helping us through this whole heartbreaking experience," said Donna.
Holly Marie Clouse in a 1980 photo taken in Lewisville, Texas. (Family photo handout via Family History Detectives)
"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. The juxtaposition of that call with Holly’s sudden discovery just popped into my head," said Les Linn, Holly’s uncle and Tina's brother. "To go from hoping to find her to suddenly meeting her less than 8 months later —- how miraculous is that?"
The AG's Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children all collaborated to find Baby Holly.
The investigation into the murders of Holly’s biological parents, Tina and Dean Clouse, is ongoing and, if anyone has information about their deaths, please contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A press conference regarding the case will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 9. It will be streamed live on this page.