After a whirlwind romance and a pregnancy, Harold Dean Clouse and Tina Linn Clouse were married in June 1979. By 1981 the couple went missing, and their families had little closure until their bodies were exhumed and identified 40 years later.
Dean was 22 and Tina was 18 when they went missing. The truth behind their disappearance wasn’t uncovered until a genetic genealogy agency tested their DNA and linked it to the bodies of a couple who was murdered in 1981.
Although Tina and Dean have been found, their child, Hollie Marie, who would be 41 today, is still missing.
“I will never forget my son and his Tina, I went years in pain wondering where they were. Now I can only keep praying God lets me see my granddaughter one day,” Donna Casasanta, Harold’s mother, told USA TODAY.
Casasanta reported her son missing in 1981 after months of no communication. She said her son had joined a religious cult in past years and the police quickly “excused the disappearance with them leaving with the cult.”
“I spent years waiting to get a call from my son or calling police stations each time a new male body was found. I spent years with my chest on fire, just waiting,” Casasanta told USA TODAY.
In January 1981, a dog wandered into the woods and returned with a human arm in its mouth. Local police later discovered a man who was beaten to death and a woman who had been strangled, the Houston Chronicle reported in 2011.
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Years went by without the bodies being identified and without progress in Harold’s and Tina’s missing persons case.
That was until the bodies were exhumed in 2011 and Identifinders International, a California-based organization that performs genetic genealogy for law enforcement, decided to take on the case.
Allison Peacock, who worked with the genealogy and operations team with Identifinders International, called the Clouse family and confirmed the couple was Dean and Tina. However, their child, Hollie was never found.
The Clouse family asks for more answers. Where is Hollie?
Brooks said the family will never know full closure until those responsible for the murders are arrested and Hollie is found.
“I can’t stop thinking about what if she’s out there, what if she doesn’t know we’re looking for her. I can’t stop thinking of seeing her again,” Debbie Brooks, Harold’s sister, told USA TODAY.
Brooks said as far as the family knows Hollie was last seen in Lewisville, Texas, and there is an ongoing investigation into her disappearance in that area.
Peacock, who now functions as the Clouse family’s advocate and public relations contact, said she’s working with agencies to create a progression photo that will show what Hollie would look like today. The hope is the photo and multiple news articles will reach Hollie or someone who knows her.
Debbie and other family members have submitted swabs of their DNA to ancestry.com and other ancestry sites in hopes of matching with Hollie or a relative who knows of her whereabouts. The Clouse family said just as they never stopped searching for Harold and Tina, they’ll never stop looking for Hollie.
“Finding Hollie is the last puzzle piece, the last piece of my brother and Tina. It means everything to us to find her,” Brooks said.
The Clouse and Linn family urge anyone with information to contact Lewisville police.
How were Harold and Tina identified?
Misty Gillis, a senior forensic genealogist, and Peacock who worked with Identifinders International and the Houston Institute of Forensic Sciences to identify the victims in the 1981 cold case.
Gillis told USA TODAY she often works on cold cases of perpetrators or children and was interested in reuniting the “love birds who died together” with their families. Dean’s and Tina’s DNA and information were uploaded to Gedmatch.com, a genealogy site that shares their users’ genetic information with law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Gillis connected Dean’s DNA with cousins in Kentucky, and in just 10 days she identified the man who was unidentified for 40 years. After speaking to the Clouse family about Harold and his background, Peacock was able to identify the woman’s body as Tina’s.
“When I got the call, I felt shock. Just shock. It had been so long of just driving down the road and hoping to see Junior (Dean). I’d see a man in the store and think, ‘Well doesn’t that look like him,'” Debbie Brooks, Harold’s sister told USA TODAY. “That call that his body was found changed everything; it helped me stop looking.”
In early 1981, Casasanta said Dean had been working in carpentry and focusing on fatherhood before his disappearance. She recalled Tina being the most “innocent and sweet” person anyone would ever meet. Although the couple was known to frequent cults in the ’80s, Casasanta said she was never satisfied with the conclusion that they had run away with the cult.
The Clouse family never stopped looking for the family. They contacted the Salvation Army and the Social Security Administration about their whereabouts. The family also ensured Dean’s, Tina’s and Hollie’s names always stayed on the missing person’s list.
“I prayed to God to send me answers about my boy before I died. I just wanted to know where he was, and then last year we got the call,” Casasanta said. “God answered my prayer, and now my chest isn’t so heavy.”
But for Brooks, the identification of the bodies isn’t enough.
“I want to know who did this, who killed them and why. I want to find Hollie, I need to know if my niece had a good life, if she was abused, if she’s OK.”
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Houston couple’s remains identified but their baby still missing