EDGEWATER, Fla. (WFLA/NBC) — A baby who went missing after her parents were killed in Texas more than 40 years ago was found alive and well this week, and has now reconnected with family members in Florida.
Holly Marie Clouse’s parents vanished shortly after moving from Volusia County, Florida to Texas in 1980. There was no sign of Holly Marie, who was just a baby at the time, after their bodies were found in 1981. The parents were not identified until 2021.
Texas Attorney General announced this week that “Baby Holly” had been found, now 42 years old, living in Oklahoma.
“I’m like, ‘oh my gosh – we found her. We found her,'” Holly Marie’s aunt, Debbie Brooks, told NBC affiliate WESH.
Brooks and her mother Donna Casasanta – who is Holly Marie’s grandmother – reunited with their long-lost family member via Zoom after news broke that she was found.
“I kept thinking, I used to hold her as a little baby, you know, and I just wanted to put my arms around her,” Casasanta said.
Casasanta’s son, Harold Dean Clouse Jr. – or Junior, as they called him – was Holly Marie’s father. He and his wife moved from New Smyrna Beach to Texas in 1980 and vanished later that year.
“You would see someone in a store [and be like] ‘is that Junior?’ but it never was, of course,” Brooks said.
Brooks and Casasanta spent more than four decades not knowing what happened to their loved ones, until last year when their bodies were identified.
“It’s very heartbreaking knowing that they had been killed that long ago and we never knew it,” Brooks said. “The bodies just dumped in the woods.”
Texas authorities on Thursday announced that “Baby Holly,” who was not found with her parents’ bodies, was left at a church in Arizona and was later adopted.
Brooks and Casasanta want to know who murdered their loved ones but are also celebrating the fact that Holly Marie has been found.
“I said, ‘oh my God, this is a gift from heaven.’ It’s Junior’s birthday, I was just so ecstatic,” Casasanta said.
They hope to meet Holly Marie in person when she is ready, but said they understand she’s overwhelmed right now and needs time to process everything.