The child of two parents who were found murdered in Texas more than 40 years ago has been located alive and well, the state attorney general has said.
“Baby Holly” Crouse, now 42 years old, was not found with her parents at the 1981 murder scene. The couple was not identified until 2021 using DNA tests.
At a news conference, Texas officials said they “rejoice” that she is safe, but the two murder cases remain open.
Officials say a mysterious religious cult may be responsible for the deaths.
Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr had moved from Florida to Texas shortly before they were found apparently murdered in the woods in Houston.
It was not until last year that they were positively identified with the help of Identifiers International, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and police in Texas, Florida and Arizona.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Texas attorney general’s newly formed Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit announced that Holly had been found after 42 years.
She now lives in Oklahoma, and is the mother of five children. Further details are not being released, in order to protect her privacy.
Ms Crouse first learned of her identity when she was visited at her workplace by police on Tuesday – on what would have been her father’s 63rd birthday.
Her grandmother called the news a “birthday present from heaven”, in a statement released by officials.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Texas First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said the girl was brought to a church in Arizona by two women.
He said that the foster parents who raised Holly are not suspected of playing any role in the murders.
“Two women who identified themselves as members of a nomadic religious group brought Holly to the church,” he said.
“They were wearing white robes and they were barefoot.”
The members of the religious group said they believed in the separation of men and women, vegetarianism and avoidance of leather goods, Mr Webster added.
They also said they had previously left another baby at a laundrette.
Mr Webster added that one woman calling herself “sister Susan” contacted the families of both victims in 1980 or 1981, saying the couple had joined the group and gave up all of their possessions. They offered to sell them the couple’s car.
The family met members of the group at the Daytona racetrack in Florida, where they confirmed that the car had belonged to Harold Dean Crouse’s mother.
Three members of the group were taken into police custody, Mr Webster said, but so far investigators have not managed to find any arrest report.
Members of the group are thought to have travelled throughout the south-western United States during the 1980s. Several women fitting the description of the group’s members have been seen begging for food in Yuma, Arizona, Mr Webster said.
Anyone with information related to the couple’s disappearance or murders are asked to contact cold case officers in the Texas attorney general’s office.
Ms Crouse is expected to travel to Florida in the coming days to be reunited with extended family members.