After Tina Gail Linn Clouse and her husband, Harold Dean Clouse Jr., went missing in 1980, family members never stopped hoping that the couple, and their infant daughter, “Baby Holly,” would one day be found.
In a partial resolution to a bizarre case full of unexpected turns, Holly Marie Clouse, now a 42-year-old-woman, has been identified and made contact with her long-lost family members.
“We wish Holly the best. We’re grateful that we found her. But we must continue with our purpose of finding who murdered this couple,” First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said in a press conference on Thursday, in which he shared details about the case in hopes that anyone with more information would come forward.
While the bodies of Holly’s parents were discovered in a wooded area of Houston, Texas, in 1981, they were not identified until 2021, when Identifinders International used genetic research. This new information, however, left several pressing questions. What happened to Baby Holly? And why were her parents killed?
According to Texas prosecutors, Baby Holly was surrendered by two barefoot women wearing white robes at an Arizona church shortly around the time of her disappearance. The women claimed to be members of a “nomadic religious group” that believed in separating male and female members, following a vegetarian diet, and not using leather goods. They also indicated that they had previously given up a baby before, in a laundromat.
Investigators believe that, during this time, the group traveled through Arizona, California, and possibly Texas. Webster said there were some sightings and that the women were seen asking for food in the area around Yuma, Arizona, in the early ‘80s.
In December 1980 or January 1981, Webster said, the family of the Clouses received a Los Angeles call from a woman who identified herself as “Sister Susan.” She said the couple had joined their religious order, given up all of their possessions, and no longer desired contact with their families. She also asked for money in exchange for returning the couple’s car to Florida.
The family agreed to meet Sister Susan at the Daytona Race Track — and notified police. Two or three white robed women, and perhaps one man, showed up with the car and were taken into police custody, although there is no record of their detention. The car, a 1978 two-door burgundy colored AMC Concord, belonged to Harold Dean Clouse’s mother, and was the car that the couple had been using at the time of their disappearance.
Their families had last heard from them in October 1980, when they were living in Lewisville, Texas. Authorities believe they were murdered two or three months later in Harris County, Texas.
The family who raised Holly are not suspects in the case, said Webster.
Members of the Clouse and Linn families, who saw Holly virtually on Tuesday, look forward to meeting her in person very soon, with financial help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“To go from hoping to find her to suddenly meeting her less than 8 months later — how miraculous is that?” said her uncle, Les Linn, in a press release from the office of the Texas Attorney General.
“I prayed for more than 40 years for answers,” said Donna Casasanta, Holly’s grandmother.
An aunt, Sherry Linn Green, said that after seeing Holly, she dreamed of her sister, Tina, playing with her baby girl.
“I believe Tina’s finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family,” she said. “That baby was her life.”