Skip to main content

Cold Case Mystery, Who Killed Her Parents?

Share This article


Holly’s biological father, Dean, become involved with a nomadic cult not once but twice as a teenager. His mother warned him to stay clear of those people. He married Holly’s biological mother, Tina, in 1979 when he was 20 and she was 15. On January 24, 1980, Holly was born in Florida. The family relocated to Texas when Holly was a baby. The couple wrote their families often until the letters suddenly stopped in October 1980. Two months later, people in long white robes from a religious cult returned Dean’s car to the family in Florida. They said he had joined their cult and he had to break off communication with his family and get rid of all his earthly possessions.

Holly was brought to the church of Phillip McGoldrick’s, a Seventh Day Adventist Pastor, in Arizona. Three women in long white robes handed Philip a dirty ten-month-old baby. In the cult, men and women traveled separately. The leader explained that there was no room for a baby in their life and the mother wanted to give up the baby. Philip thought one of the women was Tina. She handed him a letter in which Dean relinquished their parental rights for Holly. One of the women also handed over the original birth certificate. Holly believes her parents were acting in submission to the cult. Philip and his wife went to see an attorney about adopting Holly. They decided to run an ad in the newspaper about an abandoned baby. Six months later, since nobody claimed the baby, they were able to legally move forward with an official adoption. 

Holly was adopted by Philip and his wife at the time, Connie. She left when Holly was three and Philip remarried. Philip’s second wife, the only woman she called mom, left when Holly was nine. From the age of nine to fifteen Holly’s family had shrunk to her and Philip. Deep down she always felt something was missing. “Up to this point in my life, I’d learned to live with the mystery of not knowing anything about my parents,” shares Holly. She became angry with God when her boyfriend, Jack, left her at 15. By now her dad had remarried again and she felt alone.

She turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void in her life. Her junior year in high school she started using meth, living out of her car, and hanging out with a guy named Troy who was also using drugs. One day after a shot of meth, she began experiencing pain throughout her body, but could not get high. Later she discovered that her vein had collapsed. Her boyfriend, Troy, tried to get her to go to the doctor, but she refused. “I reached out for help the only way I knew how, I prayed.” She begged God to save her, and He did. She decided to put her drug habit away and restore the relationship with her father which had been damaged due to her drug use. Holly credits the power of prayer for turning her life around. Months later, she and Troy were married and began their family.


On June 7, 2022, Holly was at work in Oklahoma when she got a visit from two strangers. One from the Lewisville Police Department in Texas and another with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. These two individuals asked if she knew anything about her adoption or birth parents. Philip adopted her as a baby had always told her the truth. “My mom and dad gave me up to follow the cult they were in,” recalled Holly. As a teen, she thought her parents had died in Waco, Texas with the Branch Davidian cult members or at least that is when she mourned their deaths. The investigators told Holly that her parents did not die in Waco, but rather were murdered, and their bodies found near Houston, Texas on January 11, 1981. 

Since law enforcement was unable to solve the case at the time, their bodies were found, and they were interred. They were known for decades as the Harris County Does – as in Jane and John Doe. In 2011, when a grant came through for advanced forensic testing, DNA was extracted from the exhumed bones and teeth of Holly’s parents. The evidence indicated that Tina had been strangled and Dean has been beaten to death. In 2022, after a DNA profile for each of them had been created, forensic investigators began searching databases such as GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA. On these sites, family members can upload their DNA information from any consumer testing site to their database to increase their chances of connecting with another relative who is also searching. 

Allison, a forensic genealogist, reached out to Dean’s sister Debbie in Florida to ask if a family member had been missing in her family for decades. Debbie confirmed that her brother had disappeared in the late seventies. She was then told that they found him, and he was murdered many years ago. Debbie asked, 'What about his wife and daughter?' Allison shared that Tina had been found near Dean in a wooded area in Houston, Texas. Up to that point, the team was unaware the couple had a daughter. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and other law enforcement agencies along with family members became involved in trying to find Holly. They needed publicity to determine Holly’s whereabouts. The media was quick to begin interviewing family members. When they began to investigate Holly’s birth, they discovered her records were sealed indicating she had been adopted. This news gave them all hope. A judge agreed to unseal the records to shed light on the murders of her parents. *There is an active ongoing investigation into the murders of Tina and Dean.


The detective shared with Holly that she had a large family in Florida who wanted to meet her. Later that day, Holly did a zoom call with nine of her relatives. She found out her family members had been praying for decades for her safety and for her to be found. In November 2022, Holly and her family were reunited. “All I can do is pray, trust, and hope that God willing, we will share many more beautiful memories together,” reveals Holly. She learned that her family loved and prayed for her through the years. Holly says, “My life changed with that knowledge.” She plans to continue getting to know her new family. “Only God knew how these nine dear people and their own spouses and kids would fit perfectly into my life like the missing puzzle pieces I’d been searching for,” shares Holly. *Grandma Donna, Dean’s mother, was the only living grandparent. She passed away in October 2023. 

There are many similarities with other family members in their appearance, career choices, and personalities. Grandma Donna was a prayer warrior and a writer just like Holly. Aunt Debbie, Aunt Sherry, and Holly all have degrees in accounting. Holly’s oldest and youngest sons resemble Dean. 


On April 27, 2023, Holly and her husband drove to Houston to the site where her mom and dad’s remains were found. She says, “My heart was overwhelmed with sorrow for the brutality that my parents had endured, and the suffering of their family over forty years of not knowing.” She mourned her parents for the last time. 


She and her new family support the nonprofit Genealogy for Justice ( The organization’s mission is to solve cold cases through genetic genealogy. This year, they have already identified and solved another case on Mother’s Day. Holly says, “I am praising God that my parents’ tragedy can be turned into a miracle for another family.” Allison, the forensic genealogist that identified Tina, and some of Holly’s family members are founders of the organization.

Holly encourages everyone to upload donated DNA into GEDMatch database so genealogists and investigators can use this site to identify and solve more cases. GEDMatch combines all DNA databases in order to identify people and solve cases. The Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit tip line for the ongoing investigation into Dean and Tina Clouse is

Holly Marie has written a book about her experience and the continued search for the truth of who murdered her parents in her book, "Finding Baby Holly." To purchase her book and find out more information, please visit Holly Marie's Facebook page: You can also purchase her book on Finding Baby Holly.

Share Your Story

Share This article

About The Author