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What Was Found in the Forest


by Holly Marie


I had waited ten months for this. Until now, I hadn’t felt ready. And even though I knew the time had come, I still found myself feeling anxious as Troy and I parked our rental car beside a small office building.


I was thankful for the bright sunshine and perfect seventy-five-degree temperature. A cloudy, gloomy, rainy day would have made this visit harder. Sadder. Instead, this gorgeous April day just outside of Houston, Texas, was filled with light and life.


Troy retrieved his machete out of the back of the car.


The detectives had warned us, so we had prepared as well as we could.


“It’s a thick, overgrown woods,” they’d explained on a Zoom call when I’d told them I was going to make the eight-hour drive from my home in Oklahoma. “Lots of vines, brambles, bush palmetto, and thorny undergrowth. Wear long sleeves and long pants. And better wear boots. Parts of it may be marshy.” We’d taken their advice. Troy had added the machete.


“There’s the red and white satellite tower, just like they told us,” I said, pointing. “And that must be the dirt road leading to it, right across the street.” Cars raced down Wallisville Road in front of us, so we stood for a few minutes, waiting for the traffic to clear enough to safely cross.


Now that I was finally here, my nervousness was beginning to fade. I felt God’s reassuring presence and was thankful He had prepared my heart, just as I’d prayed.


We made our way to the base of the tower in less than five minutes.


“Now we enter the woods to our left. The site should be about forty to fifty feet in,” I said. “To a clearing that was back there . . . forty-two years ago.” Troy charged forward. I followed, stepping carefully through the undergrowth. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. There would be nothing to mark the spot where, on January 11, 1981, the bodies of Tina Linn and Harold Dean Clouse, my parents, had been found in a horrific way.


After a few more minutes of walking, Troy and I came to a small break in the trees. You could hardly call it a clearing, but it was close enough. I didn’t need to go any further. I stopped, stood very still, raised my face to the sky, and just listened. Three sounds. Traffic from Wallisville Road, birdsongs floating on the breeze, and the rustling of trees. All three were gentle. I noticed the tops of tall pines extending above the lower canopy of scrubby deciduous trees around me. Were those pines over forty years old? Had they stood as silent witnesses to the evil done here?


My heart was full but calm. I had wondered what emotional response I would have. Quiet tears? Heart-wrenching sobs? Raging anger? Overwhelming grief? None of those, as it happened. My soul was somber, but peaceful—evidence of the healing God had already been doing in the past ten months.


As you read, I’d like you to understand my reasons for writing this book. First, there is an active ongoing investigation into the murders of my mom and dad. I am hoping and praying that through this book and the media interest it generates, new evidence or witnesses might surface to help solve that case. Second, I realize what a privilege I’ve been given in being “found.” So much good has come because of it. You’ll discover how as you read. By writing this book, I wanted to share that good news. Third, mine is a story of what happens when so many good and faithful people work so hard together. From law enforcement across four states, to forensic genealogists, to NCMEC personnel, to generous people along the way, they and their organizations deserve to be recognized and praised.


But above all, there is a loving and gracious God who has intervened in many ways in my story. Without Him, there would be no story to tell. In fact, without Him, as you will see, I may never have lived to see the day those searching for me finally found me—in the most unexpected of ways.


That same God loves you, whether you know Him yet or not. I hope and pray you meet Him through these pages.


To read more about Holly’s story and purchase a copy of her book, Finding Baby Holly, visit your local Christian bookstore or click here.

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