AUSTIN, Texas – A cold case has been partially solved after a woman who was kidnapped more than 40 years ago has been found alive, according to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The family of “Baby Holly” can now find peace in knowing she’s alive and well, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The Linn and Clouse families have been searching for answers concerning the welfare of Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr. and their daughter, Holly, since they were last heard from in 1980, according to a release. Investigators said the family had been living in Louisville, Texas in 1980 at that time.
In 1981, the remains of a couple were found in a wooded area along Wallisville Road in Harris County. Investigators said the couple was likely murdered between December 1980 and early January 1981.
The remains could not be identified until 2021 when investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the Florida couple, according to a release. It was then learned that the couple had an infant daughter named Holly who was not found with the remains of the Clouses.
When the families learned that the two bodies found were, in fact, Tina and Dean Clouse, the families began looking for answers as to what happened to Baby Holly and the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Clouses, the release stated.
Details on the suspects
During Thursday’s press conference, investigators said Holly was dropped off at an Arizona church by two women who identified themselves as a nomadic religious group. They were described as wearing white robes and being barefoot. They indicated that their beliefs in religion, included separation of male and female members, practicing vegetarian habits and not using or wearing leather goods.
The women told the church that they have given up a baby before at a laundry mat -- it is believed that this particular group traveled around the southwestern United States, including Arizona, California and possibly Texas. There were sightings of this religious group around the Yuma, Arizona area in the early 80s. The female members would be seen around town at various points, asking for food.
In late December of 1980, or early January 1981, the families of the Clouses received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as sister Susan.
She explained she was calling from Los Angeles, California and wanted to return the couple’s car to their family and further stated that Tina and Dean had joined their religious group and no longer wanted to have contact with their families. She said they were also giving up all of their possessions. Sister Susan allegedly asked for money in exchange for returning the car to Florida where the family lived. The family agreed but contacted the police and agreed to meet them. Investigators said two to three women and possibly a man wearing robes showed up at the meeting place where police took them into custody. Investigators said they are still looking for the police report.
Investigators said the family who raised Holly are not suspects in this case.
Baby Holly was finally located at the age of 42. She is alive and well, according to the release. Holly has since been notified of the identities of her biological parents and has been in contact with her extended biological family and they hope to meet in person soon.
“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 alright. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mindy Montford. We will be forever grateful,” said Holly’s grandmother, Donna Casasanta.
“It was so exciting to see Holly. I was so happy to meet her for the first time. It is such a blessing to be reassured that she is alright and has had a good life. The whole family slept well last night. The Hope for Holly Project was a success thanks to Mindy and her team,” said Holly’s aunt, Cheryl Clouse.
“After finally being able to reunite with Holly, I dreamed about her and my sister, Tina last night. In my dream, Tina was laying on the floor rolling around and laughing and playing with Holly like I saw them do many times before when they lived with me prior to moving to Texas. I believe Tina’s finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family. I personally am so relieved to know Holly is alive and well and was well cared for, but also torn up by it all. That baby was her life,” said Holly’s aunt, Sherry Linn Green.
“The very first thing that ran through my head when we heard Holly was found was the call that I got eight months ago from Allison about my sister’s death. 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? All of the detectives involved...They all expressed such fortitude to get to the bottom of this case ... They have the Linn family’s complete support,” said Holly’s uncle, Les Linn.
While the family will be reunited, the investigation into Holly’s biological parents’ death is still ongoing. No arrests have been made.
If anyone has any information surrounding this case, please email the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 512-93-60742.