The grandmother of Texas’ "Baby Holly" is shedding light on the moment she learned the news earlier this week that her granddaughter had been located "alive and well" after disappearing as an infant more than four decades ago.
"I was just crying. I couldn’t believe it," Donna Casasanta told Fox News Digital on Friday morning. "I kept saying, ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Are you sure?’"
On Thursday, the Texas Attorney General’s Office’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit announced that investigators had located now-42-year-old Holly Marie Clouse safe. Her parents, Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr., who went by "Dean," were found murdered and left in a wooded area of Houston, Texas, in late 1980 or early 1981.
But Holly, who was only an infant at the time, was nowhere to be found.
On Friday, Casasanta recalled learning the long-awaited news.
"My daughter had come over to tell me in person," she said. "When she first came in, she said, ‘Mom sit down.’"
Casasanta asked her daughter what was wrong, to which she responded that she had good news and added, "This will make you happy," Casasanta recalled.
"I just cried," she said. "I worried so much about her. I always wondered whatever happened with the baby … Our goal was always to find out where Holly was."
Casasanta said she never stopped searching for answers as to the whereabouts of Tina, Holly and her son, Dean. While she has not spoken to the family that raised Clouse, she hopes to meet and thank them soon.
"I always wondered whatever happened with the baby. Did she get into human trafficking? All these things went through my mind," she said. "For 42 years, I’ve been searching and trying to find my son, wondering if he’s out there why hasn’t he gotten in touch with me."
Casasanta described reuniting with Clouse, albeit virtually, during a group Zoom call with Clouse and her biological and adopted families earlier this week. She called Clouse, who she said is now a mother and grandmother of her own, "a sweet copy of her mother."
"She looks so much like her mother – has her mother’s voice and mannerisms, she is soft speaking. I Just wanted to grab her and give her a hug," she went on. "It was just so good to see Holly."
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has offered to pay for Clouse’s trip to be reunited with her extended biological family, First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said Thursday.
Tina and Dean Clouse, who were originally from Florida, were discovered apparently murdered and left in a wooded part of Houston, Texas, in the early '80s, officials have said. But their remains were not identified until October 2021.
Attorney General’s office investigators described the chilling circumstances surrounding Clouse’s disappearance and her parents’ murder, but said they are still seeking investigators and seeking answers related to the case.
Tina and Dean Clouse's remains were discovered between January 6 and January 11, 1981, off of Wallisville Road in Harris County, Webster said.
Investigators believe they were murdered between December 1980 and early January 1981.
On Thursday, Webster revealed baby Holly "was left in a church in Arizona and was taken into their care." None of the people who cared for and raised Holly were considered suspects, he added.
Webster described how a pair of women "who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group" brought Holly to the church.
"They indicated the beliefs of their religion included the separation of male and female members, practicing vegetarian habits and not using or wearing leather goods," he said. "The women indicated they had given up a baby before at a laundromat."
The group is said to have traveled around the southwest region of the country, such as California, Arizona and possible Texas.
Dean and Tina's loved ones received a call sometime between December 1980 and January 1981 "from someone who identified herself as ‘Sister Susan,’ who explained she was calling from Los Angeles, California, and wanted to return Tina and Dean's car to their family," Webster said.
"Sister Susan" allegedly went on to tell the family that Tina and Dean "had joined their religious group and no longer wanted to have contact with their families."
"They were also giving up all of their possessions," Webser continued, speaking about the messages from the woman. "'Sister Susan' asked for money in exchange for returning the car to Florida, where the family lived. The family agreed, but contacted the local authorities about the situation."
The family met "Sister Susan" and one to two other women at a racetrack in Daytona, Florida. A man was possibly also with the women, Webster said.
"Once again, these women were wearing robes and appeared to be members of this religious group," he added.
Investigators believed police had taken the women into custody, but have so far been unable to locate any police records. Officials have described the car as being a 1978 two-door AMC Concord, that was red or burgundy in color.