A missing child was found alive after more than 40 years. But the search for her parents’ killers continues, police say



CNN

A woman who was handed over as a baby to officials at an Arizona church more than four decades ago has been identified via DNA as the daughter of a Florida couple whose murdered bodies were found in Texas in 1981, officials said Thursday.

Investigators are still working to solve the couple’s murder and are seeking the public’s help in the cold case, Texas’s first assistant attorney general Brent Webster said at a news conference.

“We wish Holly the best. We’re thankful we found her,” Webster said. “But we must continue with our goal of finding out who killed this couple.”

The parents have been identified as Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr., of Florida, and their bodies were discovered in 1981 in a wooded area in Houston, Texas, according to officials.

At the time, researchers were unable to identify the parents, and their identification came through DNA testing last year. Their daughter, who was still a baby at the time, was not found with them, leaving many unanswered questions.

More than 40 years later, the woman has been found “alive and well,” officials said Thursday. Now 42 years old, the woman was referred to as “Baby Holly” by Webster at the press conference.

As authorities work to gather details about the couple’s mysterious murder, they are turning their attention to members of a nomadic religious group who they believe took Holly to an Arizona church around the time of her disappearance, Webster said. .

An apparent member of that group — which consisted of women who were barefoot and wearing white robes, authorities say — identified herself as “Sister Susan” and called the families of Holly’s parents, announcing that the couple had joined their group and wanted to cut ties with the group. the families, Webster said.

Some of the members went to Florida to return the couple’s car in exchange for money and were later taken into police custody, although it’s unclear if they were arrested because investigators have not found any official documentation, Webster said.

Anyone with information related to the case is encouraged to contact the Cold Case and Missing Persons Department of the AG office.

The woman, known as Holly, is holding a photo of her parents.

The woman known as Holly reconnected with her extended biological family on Tuesday via a Zoom call, and Webster said the family will meet in person in the coming weeks.

“I’m like, oh my god! We found her! We found her,” Debbie Brooks, Holly’s aunt, told WESH, an affiliate of CNN.

Donna Casasanta, Holly’s biological grandmother, told WESH that knowing Holly was alive is “a godsend.”

“I kept thinking, I held her like a little baby,” Casasanta said. “And I just wanted to put my arms around her.”

The couple’s families say they haven’t heard from them since October 1980 and have spent decades searching for answers about their whereabouts.

“It’s heartbreaking to know they were murdered so long ago and we never knew. The bodies were just dumped in the woods,” Brooks said.

In a press release, Casasanta said she had been waiting for decades for the moment to reunite with Holly.

“I’ve prayed for answers for over 40 years and the Lord revealed some of them… we found Holly,” Casasanta said.

In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised his office’s work on the case, noting that the investigation “demonstrates the importance of working on cold case and missing persons investigations.”

“I am extremely proud of the exceptional work done by my office’s newly formed Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit,” said Paxton. “My office worked diligently across state lines to unravel the mystery surrounding Holly’s disappearance.”