Category Archives: Murder

MISSING WOMAN FOUND AFTER OVER 40 YEARS

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General LogoAttorney General Paxton’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit Locates Woman who has Been Missing for Over 40 years, Shortly After Creating the Unit

AUSTIN, TX  –  In 1981, two deceased individuals, who were the apparent victims of a homicide, were discovered in a wooded area in Houston, Texas, and their identities could not be determined at that time.  In 2021, Identifinders International, through the use of genetic genealogy, was able to positively identify the bodies that were found in 1981 as Florida couple Tina Gail Linn Clouse and Harold Dean Clouse Jr.  The couple had an infant daughter named Holly who was not found with the remains of the Clouses.

The Linn and Clouse families have been searching for answers concerning the welfare of the Clouses and their daughter, Holly, since they were last heard from in 1980.  Last year, when the families learned that the two bodies found in Houston in 1981 were, in fact, Tina and Dean Clouse, the families began looking for answers as to what happened to Baby Holly and the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Clouses.

Baby Holly has been located alive and well and is now 42 years of age.  Holly has been notified of the identities of her biological parents and has been in contact with her extended biological family and they hope to meet in person soon.

I am extremely proud of the exceptional work done by my office’s newly formed Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit.  My office diligently worked across state lines to uncover the mystery surrounding Holly’s disappearance.  We were successful in our efforts to locate her and reunite her with her biological family.”  Attorney General Paxton said.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  This investigation highlights the hard work and collaboration of multiple law enforcement divisions across the country and demonstrates the importance of working cold case and missing persons investigations.

“At the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we know that with advancements in technology and the hard work and dedication of law enforcement, we can get answers, even after four decades,” said John Bischoff, vice president of the Missing Children Division at NCMEC.  “We are thrilled that Holly will now have the chance to connect with her biological family who has been searching for her for so long. We hope that this is source of encouragement for other families who have missing loved ones and reminds us all to never give up.  NCMEC applauds the collaborative effort of the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit, the Lewisville Police Department and all the assisting agencies who came together to make today’s news possible.”

“Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven since we found her on Junior’s birthday.  I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it… we have found Holly.”

“Thank you to all of the investigators for working so hard to find Holly.  I prayed for them day after day and that they would find Holly and she would be alright.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mindy Montford.  We will be forever grateful,” said Donna Casasanta (Holly’s grandmother).

“It was so exciting to see Holly.  I was so happy to meet her for the first time.  It is such a blessing to be reassured that she is alright and has had a good life.  The whole family slept well last night.  The Hope for Holly Project was a success thanks to Mindy and her team,” said Cheryl Clouse (Holly’s aunt).

“After finally being able to reunite with Holly, I dreamed about her and my sister, Tina last night.  In my dream, Tina was laying on the floor rolling around and laughing and playing with Holly like I saw them do many times before when they lived with me prior to moving to Texas.  I believe Tina’s finally resting in peace knowing Holly is reuniting with her family. I personally am so relieved to know Holly is alive and well and was well cared for, but also torn up by it all. That baby was her life,” said Sherry Linn Green (Holly’s aunt).

“The very first thing that ran through my head when we heard Holly was found was the call that I got eight months ago from Allison about my sister’s death.  The juxtaposition of that call with Holly’s sudden discovery just popped into my head.  To go from hoping to find her to suddenly meeting her less than 8 months later – how miraculous is that?  All of the detectives involved ..They all expressed such fortitude to get to the bottom of this case..  They have the Linn family’s complete support,” said Les Linn (Holly’s uncle).

The investigation into the murders of Holly’s biological parents, Tina and Dean Clouse, is ongoing and, if anyone has information about their deaths, please contact the Texas Attorney General’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit at coldcaseunit@oag.texas.gov .

TX AG FAU Takes Down Child Predator Fugitives, Violent Fugitive For Murder

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TX AG Fugitive Apprehension Unit Roundsup 2 Child Predators and a Fugitive on TX DPS Top 10 Most Wanted.

AG Paxton’s Law Enforce­ment Round Up

The Fugitive Apprehension Unit made several noteworthy arrests last week.

In Harris County, Leonard Dee Taylor was arrested in Houston on July 23 for failing to comply with his mandated sex offender registration requirements, and a corresponding warrant for Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Requirements issued in 2018 out of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.  Taylor was added to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Top 10 Most Wanted Sex Offender List in May of 2019.  In 2003, Taylor was convicted of two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child in Bowie County and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Service, Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force, and assisted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In Smith County, Dakevian Benoit Scroggins was arrested in Tyler on July 24 on outstanding warrants for Capitol Murder issued by the Tyler Police Department and Evading Arrest issued by the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office.  Scroggins was added to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Top 10 Most Wanted in July of 2021.  In 2014, Scroggins was convicted of Prohibited Weapon in Smith County and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, along with the Tyler Police Department and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

In Wharton County, Francisco Avalos was arrested in Louise on three outstanding warrants for Sexual Assault of a Child, Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography and Online Solicitation of a Minor issued by the Victoria County 377th District Court.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force out of Victoria.

After 2015 Sexual Assault, Murder Of Jourdin A’Legacy Smith, Justice Served

.jpg photo of father of child who was murdered
Jamarkus Smith, 31, was found guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.

Parents sent to prison in 2015 Fayetteville slaying, sex assault of 3-year-old daughter

Cumberland County, NC  –  A Fayetteville mother and father were sent to prison Monday for the 2015 sexual abuse and death of their malnourished 3-year-old daughter.

After a week of testimony and just over four hours of deliberation, a Cumberland County jury found Jamarkus Smith, 31, guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.

.jpg photo of mother of child who was murdered
Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.

Jourdin’s mother and Smith’s wife, Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.

Testimony in Smith’s trial began July 19, with closing arguments on Friday.

Following the jury verdict, Smith professed his innocence when he addressed the court before sentencing.

“I showed them I was innocent,” he said.  “They know I’m innocent, and you know I’m innocent.  Everybody here knows.  How is that right?  At what point is the legal system about justice?”

No statements were made on behalf of Jourdin before Judge Claire Hill sentenced Smith to life imprisonment for the murder and a combined 25 to 35 years for the other charges. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Smith’s attorney, Kris Poppe, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.

As Smith was escorted from the courtroom Monday, he turned to two women in the gallery who appeared to be there on his behalf and said, “I didn’t do it.”

“I know you didn’t baby,” one of the women said.  “He didn’t do that.  I don’t care what nobody says.  He didn’t do it.”

According to the child’s autopsy report, the cause of death was pneumonia in the setting of malnutrition, neglect and sexual abuse.   She weighed just 28 pounds at the time of her death, and her body and genitals were riddled with lacerations and contusions, the report said.

Bennett-Smith’s sentencing came some 30 minutes after her husband’s.

Her defense attorney, Antonio Gerald, called Jourdin’s death a tragedy.

Gerald said that Bennett-Smith accepted responsibility for her role in Jourdin’s death and “agreed to testify and assist in any way to help bring justice for Jourdin.”

Bennett-Smith did not speak during the hearing but cried as she was sentenced to a minimum term 10 years, five months, and a maximum of 13 years, six months for the second-degree murder charge.

The judge declined Gerald’s request for a consolidated sentence and instead stacked the sentence for the other charges.

For the child abuse and sexual assault charges, she received a consecutive minimum sentence of four years, four months, and a maximum of more than 10 years in prison.  She will be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years after release.

The judge also recommended a psychological evaluation for Bennett-Smith.

Gerald said that the court heard during her testimony at Smith’s trial that she was also a victim of assault as a child.

“These are not excuses for her actions of what she has pled guilty to, but only to shed some light as to what may have led her to be in this courtroom today,” he said.

TX AG FAU Stop Female Child Predator And 3 More Fugitives

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TX AG Fugitive Apprehension Unit Stop Female Child Predator, Violent Fugitives

AG Paxton’s Law Enforcement Round Up

The Fugitive Apprehension Unit made several noteworthy arrests last week:

In Dallas County, Jorge Antonio Cervantes was arrested in Dallas on July 21, on an outstanding warrant for Sexual Assault issued by the Waxahachie Police Department.

In Bexar County, Nicole Kristina Clayton was arrested in San Antonio on July 16, on an outstanding warrant for Sex Offense Against Child Fondling – Felony Indecency with a Child/Sexual Contact issued by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force out of San Antonio.

In Travis County, Milo Cortez Douglas was arrested in Austin on July 19, on an outstanding warrant for Murder issued by the Austin Police Department.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force out of Austin.

In Dallas County, Facundo Dario Araya was arrested in Irving on July 20, on an outstanding warrant for Sexual Assault of a Child issued by the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

TX Attorney General’s Units Keeping Texas Safe

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General LogoAG Paxton’s Law Enforcement Round Up

AUSTIN, TX  –  The Texas Attorney General’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit made several noteworthy arrests last week.

  • In Travis County, while working with the United States Marshal’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, the Fugitive Apprehension Unit arrested Christopher Michael Garcia in Austin on February 23.  Garcia had an outstanding warrant for murder issued by the Austin Police Department.
  • In Ellis County, Brandon Douglas Wilder was arrested in Midlothian on February 23.  Wilder had an outstanding warrant for Indecency with a Child Sexual Contact issued by the Midlothian Police Department.
  • In Smith County, while working with the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, the Fugitive Apprehension Unit arrested Jordan Syncere Hankins in Tyler on February 23.  Hankins had an outstanding warrant for Aggravated Robbery issued by the Tyler Police Department.

The Texas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit made one arrest in relation to sexual assault of a child.

  • In San Patricio County, Gabriel Gonzales, 56, of Mathis was arrested on a sexual assault of a child warrant.  This case was received as a tip from the Polaris National Hotline, as well as a request for assistance by the Mathis Police Department.  During the investigation, it was determined that in 2020, Gonzales sexually assaulted a child in Mathis.  Gonzales was taken into custody without incident and was transported to the San Patricio County Jail with a $40,000 bond.