A child that went missing more than 40 years ago was recently found “alive and well,” according to a press release from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
In 1980, a couple from Florida named Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr. was reported missing. A year later, their bodies were discovered in a wooded area near Houston.
When their remains were found, they were too far decomposed to be identified. Their two-year-old child, Holly Marie, could not be located nearby.
The bodies could finally be identified last year after the Indentifinders International group took up the case. This organization uses forensic genealogy to assist law enforcement agencies with their investigations. After forensics were done, their families began searching for answers.
That search led to a collaboration between the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Lewisville Police Department, Florida’s Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
With the help of those agencies, a now 42-year-old “baby” Holly was found and will soon get a chance to meet her extended family she never knew.
“Thank you to all 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,” Donna Casasanta, Holly’s grandmother, said. “We will be forever grateful.”
Cheryl Clouse, Holly’s aunt, said, “It was so exciting to see Holly. I was so happy to meet her for the first time. It is 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.”
First Assistant Attorney General and member of the cold case unit Brent Webster said during a press conference on Thursday that a church in Arizona took baby Holly in.
Webster said, “Two women who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group brought Holly to church. The women indicated they had given up a baby before at a laundromat.”
The investigation into the Clouses’ deaths and suspected homicide is still ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to email the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attorney General Paxton created the task force in March last year to investigate the more than 20,000 unsolved homicides in Texas. The Baby Holly case represents the first major triumph of the recently-created agency.
According to its website, the agency’s mission is “to provide assistance and support to law enforcement agencies across the state in the investigation and prosecution (if applicable) of unsolved cases, including homicides, missing persons, and other matters centered around human identification and forensic genealogy.
“The goal of the Unit is to collaborate and coordinate with local authorities, upon the request of each agency, to provide investigative assistance, training opportunities, state-of-the-art forensic testing, expert witnesses, legal research, and other helpful resources to support local jurisdictions in working unsolved homicide cases.”