Murdered Houston couple identified 40 years later, but their baby is still missing

A couple murdered in Houston, Texas, 40 years ago has been identified, thanks to a team of researchers and a true-crime podcast producer — but their daughter remains missing.

Forensic-based research service Identifinders International announced on Wednesday that researchers had identified then-21-year-old Harold Dean Clouse and his wife, then-17-year-old Tina Gail Linn Clouse, as the victims of a 1981 murder case that was unsolved for exactly four decades.

“We are pleased the Forensic Science Institute placed its confidence in us and we could bring closure to the Clouse and Linn families. We thank audiochuck for their generous support in funding the work on this case,” Colleen Fitzpatrick, president of Identifinders International, said in a statement Wednesday.

Then-21-year-old Harold Dean Clouse and his wife, then-17-year-old Tina Gail Linn Clouse (Identifiers International)

Then-21-year-old Harold Dean Clouse and his wife, then-17-year-old Tina Gail Linn Clouse (Identifiers International)

Identifiers International worked in conjunction with the Houston Institute of Forensic Sciences and podcast producer audiochuck, which provided funding for generic testing for the case, to make the discovery.

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Identifinders Senior Forensic Genealogist Misty Gillis and former colleague Allison Peacock identified the couple within 10 days of taking on the case. The location of their daughter, however, remains unknown.

Clouse and Linn’s families hadn’t seen the couple since they left Florida for Texas with their 1-year-old daughter, Hollie Marie Clouse, in 1980. 

Hollie Marie Clouse pushing a stroller. (Family History Detectives)

Hollie Marie Clouse pushing a stroller. (Family History Detectives)

On Jan. 12, 1981, a dog discovered the couple’s remains in a wooded area in Houston. They had already been dead for about two months at the time of the discovery. Clouse was beaten and gagged, and Linn had been strangled, according to Identifiers International.

Family members believed the pair had joined a religious cult and no longer wanted contact with relatives, Identifiers International said in a press release.

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If Hollie Marie is still alive, she will turn 42 next month, according to Peacock.

Peacock wrote about the discovery and her experience sharing it with Clouse’s 80-year-old mother in a blog post for Family History Detectives — a company she founded that uses genetic genealogy to help identify human remains and parentage.

Composite drawings of then-21-year-old Harold Dean Clouse and his wife, then-17-year-old Tina Gail Linn Clouse (Family History Detectives)

Composite drawings of then-21-year-old Harold Dean Clouse and his wife, then-17-year-old Tina Gail Linn Clouse (Family History Detectives)

Clouse’s mother said Peacock’s call, while sad, was “the joyous answer to a decades long prayer…to have answers as to what happened to her firstborn son while she was still alive.”

“If Hollie Marie is still alive, she will turn 42 years old next month, although she probably doesn’t even know her real birthday,” Peacock wrote. “And she’d have no way of knowing that she was raised by someone who at the very least was a third or fourth party to the murder of her parents. At the most, they may have been involved directly.”

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She added in another blog post that because Hollie Marie was not found with her parents’ bodies, her family remains hopeful that she is still alive.

“It’s inspired me to shepherd DNA profiles for key family members on various consumer databases hoping that she’ll test one day,” Peacock wrote. “And if she does, I have no doubt that this lavishing of love will indeed take place.”