Texas murder case search reveals missing child, now 42

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A decades-long search by a Florida woman and her extended family tied to an unsolved murder case has led to the woman finally finding her missing granddaughter, now grown without any prior knowledge of his tragic story, officials said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the mystery behind who brutally killed the girl’s parents more than 40 years ago remains unsolved, and authorities in Texas are asking for the public’s help.

Family photo of Tina Gail Linn, Hollie Marie Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse. Murdered in 1980 and discovered in early 1981, Hollie’s body has never been found and it is possible that she is still alive. (Handout/Identifinders International)

Harold Dean Clouse Jr., Tina Linn Clouse and their baby girl went missing in October 1980, shortly after the young family moved from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, Texas, according to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

In January 1981, in a rural area east of Houston, a dog that returned home with a decomposed human arm in its mouth prompted a police search that located the remains of an unidentified couple, the report reported. Houston Chronicle. The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office said the man was beaten to death, while the woman was strangled.

The couple remained unidentified until last October, when a group of genetic genealogists who worked with law enforcement tested the remains and identified them as the Clouse couple, the first assistant prosecutor said. General Brent Webster at a press conference Thursday afternoon in Austin, Texas. But no sign of their infant granddaughter, known as Holly Marie Clouse, was found with her parents’ remains.

RELATED: Texas Couple Killed in 1981 Identified 40 Years Later Their Child Still Missing

Webster did not take questions at Thursday’s news conference, but called for the public’s help in solving the homicide cases. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is running for re-election, was not present.

As for the missing baby, it wasn’t until Tuesday, when modern technology led investigators to her workplace, that the now 42-year-old found out about her birth family and tragic past. Before that, all she knew was that she was adopted and raised by a family in Oklahoma who adopted her.

The child’s adoptive family are not suspicious of his disappearance or the death of his parents, Webster said. He declined to provide their identities or how the child identifies himself today.

Hours after the stunning revelation, the Oklahoma woman was introduced to her grandmother, aunts and uncles on a Zoom call. She told them she had been married for more than 20 years and had five children and two infant grandchildren, the Chronicle reported.

But many questions remain, including who killed the Clouses.

At one point, two women left the child at a church in Arizona and took her in, Webster said.

“Two women who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group brought (the child) to the church. They wore white robes and they were barefoot. They indicated that the beliefs of their religion included the separation of male and female members, the practice of vegetarian habits, and the prohibition of using or wearing leather goods,” Webster said.

It is not known how the women came into possession of the child. Investigators believe the group traveled throughout the American Southwest, including Texas, and was known in the Yuma, Arizona area to beg for food, Webster said.

In late December 1980 or early January 1981, the missing couple’s family received a phone call from a woman identifying herself only as “Sister Susan”. The woman said she was calling from Los Angeles to explain that the missing couple had joined their religious group, renounced all material possessions and wanted no further contact with their families. The woman asked if the family wanted the missing couple’s car returned.

A meeting was arranged at Daytona Motor Speedway in Florida and authorities were notified, Webster said. They met a man and three women in robes. The women were taken into custody and the car was turned over to Donna Casasanta, the mother of Harold Dean Clouse, but no records of the women’s arrest could be found by Florida authorities, Webster said. .

Webster appealed to the public on Thursday for any information regarding the cold unsolved homicide case, noting that many questions remain unanswered. Casasanta herself said in a statement released by the attorney general’s office that she “has prayed for more than 40 years for answers, and the Lord has revealed some of them.”

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