A baby who has been missing since her parents were found murdered in a wooded area in Houston in 1981 has been found, Texas authorities have announced. Holly Clouse, now 42, is alive and well, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said in a statement Wednesday.
Clouse was about a year old when her parents’ bodies were found in January 1981, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. They weren’t identified until 2021, when a forensic genetic genealogy firm said they were Harold Dean Clouse Jr. and Tina Gail Linn Clouse, originally of Florida, according to Paxton’s office.
Their deaths are still under investigation, Paxton’s office said. Their families had last heard from the couple in October 1980, Texas First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said during a press conference Thursday.
Webster said the family who raised Clouse aren’t considered suspects in the killing of her biological parents. He asked the public to contact investigators with any information about the killings, which he said happened between December 1980 and early January 1981.
“While we rejoice today that Holly has been found and families that were looking for her for decades rejoice, we still are looking for suspects in this case,” Webster said.
As a baby, Clouse was left at an Arizona church, Webster said. He didn’t provide details about who found her, and did not say when she was found at the church.
Webster said two women brought Clouse to the church. The women, who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group, wore white robes and were barefoot, Webster said.
“They indicated the beliefs of their religion included the separation of male and female members, practicing vegetarian habits and not using or wearing leather goods,” he said.
Webster said the women indicated they had previously given up a baby at a laundromat.
Members of the group are believed to have traveled in Arizona, California and possibly Texas, Webster said. During the early 1980s, members of the group were spotted in the Yuma, Arizona, area, with the female members asking for food, he said.
In late December 1980 or early January 1981, the families of Clouse’s parents received a call from a person who identified herself as “Sister Susan,” Webster said. The caller said she was in Los Angeles and wanted to return the parents’ car to the family.
“She further stated that Tina and Dean had joined their religious group and no longer wanted to have contact with their families; they were also giving up all of their possessions,” Webster said.
The family and the caller set up a meeting at a racetrack in Daytona, Florida, Webster said. A group of either two or three women, all wearing robes, and possibly a male met the family, who had contacted authorities.
Webster said the women were reportedly taken into custody, but investigators haven’t found a police report about the incident, which Webster said wasn’t unusual given how long ago it happened.
Clouse has been told of her biological parents’ identities and has been in contact with her newfound relatives, Paxton’s office said.
“That baby was her life,” Tina Clouse’s sister, Sherry Linn Green, said of Holly Clouse in a statement.
CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reports Holly Clouse now lives in Oklahoma and has five children of her own.
“The very first thing that ran through my head when we heard Holly was found was the call that I got eight months ago … about my sister’s death,” Tina Clouse’s brother, Les Linn, said in a statement. “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 8 months later —- how miraculous is that?”