A 41-year-old mother of five, living quietly in Oklahoma, was shocked to learn last week that a cold case clue revealed her true identity as Holly Marie Clouse. She had no idea that she was abducted while an infant in 1981. She is happy, though, to report that she’s alive and well. It came as a shock to learn that she has an extended family. One relieved to learn she’s safe and sound, because they finally get a sense of “closure” from the family tragedy.
One cold case lead starts another
Texas police found the bodies of Holly’s parents in 1981 and didn’t know who they were. The identities of the victims from a violent murder case went unsolved until 2021.
Both of the victims’ families believed that they had run off and joined a cult but were still alive somewhere. Holly had been abandoned at a church in Arizona by a “nomadic religious group” and raised by adoptive parents. That’s about all she knew about her past until detectives paid her a visit. “Hours after getting the startling news, Holly was reunited online with her family members on both sides.”
On Thursday, June 9, the Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, associated with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, made the announcement that, “with help from their counterparts” in three separate states, an “exhaustive search for records of the missing child finally led them to Oklahoma.”
They didn’t even know they had a missing child to look for until they solved the related investigation. Identifying her parents’ remains. “The Texas Attorney General’s Office is still investigating the murders and are eager to find the people responsible – even if they are dead.”
On January 12, 1981, the bodies of John and Jane Doe, now identified as Harold Dean Clouse and Tina Linn Clouse, were discovered. They had been murdered and left in a rural, wooded part of Houston. The case went cold due to lack of any helpful clues.
When the remains were miraculously identified in October of 2021, detectives were startled to learn they had a new file to open. Founder of FHD Forensics Allison Peacock and her colleague Misty Gillis had “successfully identified Harold and Tina using genetic sequencing.” So, they contacted Harold’s family. On one hand, she notes, “I’d answered a prayer for her but the next words out of her mouth were ‘what about the baby?’ I said, ‘what baby?‘”
This couple was killed in 1980, but their remains weren’t ID’d until Oct. 2021. As two mysteries were solved, another was uncovered. @Allison_Peacock learned the couple had a one year old baby. @TXAG cold case unit took on the case & with help they found Holly Marie alive. @KHOU pic.twitter.com/vmQnXKI61L
— Xavier Walton (@xmanwalton) June 9, 2022
Killed and erased him
“These evil people that killed them,” Ms. Peacock relates, “brought Harold’s car back to Florida and tried to extort $1k from Donna. So, not only did they kill him, they erased him. They said, ‘don’t even look for him.’” That’s a great way to stop a murder case in it’s tracks. The intrigue started when Harold, Tina and newborn Holly moved from Florida to Texas for his job in the early 1980s.
The last time his family heard from them, “was in a letter in late 1980.” It wasn’t until a few months later when “Harold’s mother, Donna Cassanta, received a phone call from a woman in California who said she had the car that she had given her son to move to Texas with.”
Calling herself “Sister Susan,” the woman “offered to drive it back to Florida in exchange for $1,000.” Cops were waiting to question her but the story made enough sense to convince everyone.
Once in Daytona, three white-robed and barefoot women “told Donna that Harold, Tina and baby Holly were all alive and well but had joined a religious cult and didn’t want to be contacted.” Harold had done that before, so the family believed it. Case closed.
Baby Holly, it turns out, “was left at a church in Arizona and raised by a family who had nothing to do with her disappearance.” According to First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster, “two women who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group brought Holly to the church. They were wearing white robes and were barefoot.”
They told the pastor that “members of the group traveled around the Southwest and believes in the separation of male and female church members.” They also mentioned, “they’d previously dumped another baby at a laundromat.” Police think that means another murder case, too.