'Baby Holly Marie' Found Alive 40 Years After Her Parents Were Found Murdered in Houston
The missing baby is now a 42-year-old mother living in Oklahoma, authorities said.
The missing child of a murdered Texas couple has been found alive and well, 40 years after her parents were killed, authorities said Thursday.
The mysterious slayings remain unsolved, and investigators and family members have been trying to locate "Baby Holly Marie," since the bodies of her parents were found in rural woods outside Houston in 1981.
She is the 42-year-old daughter of Howard Dean Clouse Jr. and Tina Linn Clouse, and she has now been informed of her extended biological family, courtesy of law enforcement agencies in three states and advanced DNA tracing by genealogists.
The strange case had lived in the shadows since the bodies of the young couple were discovered 40 years ago. Investigators at the time were not able to identify the man and woman, but said their deaths were homicides.
It wasn't until last year that DNA technology was able to identify the couple, who had moved with their baby daughter in 1980 from Florida to Texas, where the husband was to start a new job.
The couple's family last heard from them in October of that year, said First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster at a Thursday afternoon Texas press conference.
Webster took no questions at the media event, saying the investigation was still ongoing and pleading for help from the public about the unsolved murders. Investigators have no suspects, he said.
The prosecutor said the newly formed cold case unit of the Texas Attorney General's Office began looking at the murders in 2021, and began searching for the couple's missing daughter in conjunction with investigators in Arizona and Florida, and genetic experts in advanced DNA testing.
Webster said baby Holly Marie was given to an Arizona church by two women wearing white robes and no shoes. The women said they belonged to a nomadic religious group that believed men and women should be segregated, Webster said.
The church cared for the child, who was later adopted, he said. The adoptive parents are not suspects, Webster said.
A woman identifying herself as "Sister Susan" later called the victims' families in 1980 said she had the couple's car and offered to return it in exchange for money, the prosecutor said. The woman said the couple had joined a religious group that eschewed physical possessions and the husband and wife wanted no further contact with their families.
The families met with the woman and others in Florida, Webster said. Arrests were made during that meeting, but investigators have not been able to find any record of them, Webster said, adding it was not uncommon for decades-old records to go missing.
Holly's biological family has been overjoyed since being notified the woman has been discovered safe. The daughter is now a mother of five living in Oklahoma.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is paying for Holly to be reunited with her biological family in person, Webster said.
The organization said Holly "realizes that so many people are interested in hearing more about her and her story" but "is asking for privacy at this time."
The organization released a statement on her behalf.
"Holly appreciates all of the support she has received. We request that you give her time and respect her privacy as she processes this very personal news about her biological family. We know that the public is anxious to hear directly from Holly but for now we ask for patience and time."
Holly's grandmother, Donna Casasanta, said, “I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it," she told WESH-TV in Texas.
“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 all right," the grandmother said.
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