DNA Sample Pinpoints Trucker to 30-Year Cold Case

June 20, 2018 Updated: June 20, 2018

On Friday, June 15, a 55-year-old man from Washington state was charged with first-degree murder approximately three decades after the act was allegedly committed, reported KCTV.

William Earl Talbott II, a trucker living north of Sea-Tac International Airport, was identified as a suspect in the November 1987 murder of Canadian couple Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and Jay Cook, 20.

A DNA sample obtained by police from a cup that fell from Talbott’s truck have now been used to link Talbott to the double murder and rape of Van Cuylenborg in Skagit County, reported Herald Net.

Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg of Vancouver Island, Canada, were found murdered in Washington state in 1987. (Screenshot via KCPQ)

According to authorities, genealogists used DNA evidence from the cup sample as well as information available on public genealogy websites to build a family tree. From distant cousins on the public database, the genealogists were able to narrow down their search to Talbott.

Craig Matheson, Snohomish County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor said: “From all available information, these acts of violence were as random as they were savage.”

According to Matheson, 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg had been raped and shot in the back of the head “execution style.” Her body was found on Nov. 24, 1987, in the woods off a rural road south of Alger in Skagit County.

20-year-old Jay Cook had been beaten with rocks and strangled. His body was found on Nov. 26, 1987, about 75 miles away at the High Bridge, south of Monroe.

Former friends of Talbott, who knew him to as a delivery driver in 1987, came forward to confirm that the route Talbot took matched that of Cuylenborg and Cook’s travel plans at the time, according to Heraldnet.

In the late 80’s the case was aired on “Unsolved Mysteries.” Around 350 suspects were named.

Snohomish County cold-case detective, Jim Scharf, who had been assigned to the case for 12 years said: “It’s something that you just never give up on.”

Talbott is being held in the Skagit County Community Justice Center with no bail.


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