Missing Holly Marie Clouse, who was recently discovered “alive and well” more than 40 years after her parents were brutally murdered in Texas, was dropped off as a baby at an Arizona church by two women wearing white robes, according to authorities.
Texas First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said in a press conference Thursday that, while leaving the baby in the care of the church, the women identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group who believed in the separation of its male and female members.
“They were wearing white robes and they were barefoot,” Webster said.
He added that the religious group had also adopted a vegetarian lifestyle and opposed using leather goods.
“The women had indicated they had given up a baby before at a laundromat,” Webster said.
Authorities believe the religious group traveled around southwestern United States to areas including Arizona, California and possibly Texas and were spotted in the Yuma, Arizona area in the early 1980s.
“The women members would be seen around town at various points asking for food,” Webster said.
Authorities provided the information as part of a public plea for help to solve the murders of Holly’s parents, Tina Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr., who his family called Dean.
The couple's unidentified bodies were off a wooded road in Harris County, Texas sometime between January 6 and January 11, 1981, Webster said.
Photo: Debbie Brooks
The bodies were found about 100 feet apart and both had been brutalized, bound and gagged, Oxygen.com previously reported. At the time, authorities were unable to identify the victims.
The couple had last spoken to their families in late October of 1980 and were living in Lewisville, Texas at the time.
Authorities believe they were likely killed sometime in December of 1980 or early January of 1981.
Around that same time, Webster said the couple’s family received a phone call from someone who identified herself as “Sister Susan.”
The woman told them she was calling from Los Angeles, California and wanted to return the couple's car to their family because she said the two had joined their religious group and no longer wanted contact with their families or any of their possessions.
“Sister Susan asked for money in exchange for returning the car to Florida, where the family lived,” Webster said. “The family agreed but contacted the local authorities about the situation.”
When family members arrived at the Daytona racetrack in Florida, they met with two or three women and possibly one male from the group.
“Once again, these women were wearing robes and appeared to be members of this religious group,” Webster said.
Police reportedly took the women into custody, but authorities have not been able to find a record of a police report on file.
“We’re still on the hunt for that,” Webster said.
The Linn and Clouse families did not know what had happened to Tina, Dean and baby Holly Clouse until 2021, when the forensic genetic genealogy organization Identifiers International were able to positively identify the remains found in Texas as those of Dean and Tina.
“We learned this couple had an infant daughter named Holly who was not found with the remains of the Clouses and so the search for baby Holly began,” investigators said.
Holly has been notified of the identities of her biological parents and was able to meet her extended biological family virtually earlier this week.
“They hope to meet in person soon,” Webster said, adding that the people who raised Holly are not considered suspects in the case.
While Webster said they were happy the Linn and Clouse families finally have answers about what happened to baby Holly, they are still searching for any information that could help them find out who killed her parents all those years ago.
“If you have any information regarding these murders, we ask that you come forward, even if it’s a piece of information that may not be concrete evidence,” he said. “We need to find pieces of the puzzle to solve this crime.”
Anyone with information about the case, is asked to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.