In a bizarre twist involving a barefoot nomadic religious group, the daughter of a murdered Texas couple has been located 42 years after the violent death of her parents. state authorities said Thursday.
The new Texas Attorney General’s Office Open Cases and Missing Persons Unit made the announcement Thursday morning.
Holly Marie Clouse had last been seen by her family in the late 1980s. Her parents, Dean and Tina Linn Clouse, were found murdered in rural Houston on January 12, 1981. Dean was beaten to death and his wife strangled. . Her son was not found with her remains, state officials said.
Police from three states joined the search, and Texas investigators eventually found the girl, now a 42-year-old woman.
“Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven,” her grandmother Donna Casasanta said in a statement obtained by USA TODAY. “I have prayed for over 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of that…we have found Holly.
“Thank you to all the investigators for working so hard to find Holly. I prayed for them day after day and that Holly would be found and that she would be okay.”
During a news conference in Austin on Thursday afternoon, First Deputy Attorney General Brent Webster said the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children will pay for Holly to be reunited with her family.
“They hope to meet in person soon,” he told reporters.
A dog and a human arm.
After a whirlwind romance and pregnancy, the Clouses, who were 22 and 18 when they disappeared, married in June 1979. Investigators believe they were killed in 1980 and said they lived in Lewisville, Texas before their deaths.
In January 1981, a dog wandered into the woods and came back with a human arm in its mouth.
Years passed without the bodies being identified and without progress in the missing persons case.
Their bodies were exhumed in 2011 and Identifinders International, a California organization that performs genetic genealogy for law enforcement, decided to take on the case.
The agency tested the couple’s DNA and linked it to the couple’s bodies.
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The family learned that the couple’s daughter was still alive and well and living in Oklahoma, where a family adopted her as a baby, the Houston Chronicle reported this week. Investigators entered Holly’s workplace on Tuesday and told her who she was.
The family that raised Holly is not a suspect in this case, Webster said Thursday.
He said the investigation into the murder of Holly’s biological parents, as well as the circumstances leading to the girl’s disappearance, remained open.
“After finally being able to reunite with Holly … I think Tina is finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family,” Sherry Linn Green, Holly’s aunt, said in a statement released by the family. “I am personally very relieved. knowing that Holly is alive and well and well cared for, but also broken by everything. That baby was the life of her.”
barefoot women dressed in white
According to new information released Thursday, Webster said, Holly was dropped off at a church in Arizona and placed in their care.
Investigators said two women members of a “nomadic religious group” left baby Holly at the church. The women wore white robes, were barefoot and indicated that their religion’s beliefs included separation of male and female members, practicing vegetarian habits and not wearing or wearing leather goods, Webster said.
“The women indicated that they had previously dropped off a baby at a laundromat,” Webster said.
The researchers believe the women and their group traveled throughout the southwestern United States, including Arizona, California and possibly Texas. Webster said there were sightings of the group in Yuma, Arizona, in the early 1980s, where they were seen around town begging for food.
Then, around January 1981, Webster said, the victims’ families received a phone call from an unidentified woman who said she was calling from Las Vegas and wanted to return the Clouses’ car to her family. She said the couple had joined their religious group and no longer wanted contact with their families.
The woman asked for money in exchange for the car, a red 1978 AMC Concord two-door, and the family agreed to meet in Daytona, Florida, where police took the women into custody, Webster said.
But because of the age of the case, Webster said, no police report has been located.
“We are still looking for suspects in this case.” Webster said Thursday. “This is an ongoing and pending criminal investigation.”
Anyone with information about their deaths or Holly’s disappearance is asked to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking news for USA TODAY. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.