Police arrest cold case suspect 31 years after couple went missing
It took more than 30 years, but investigators in Snohomish and Skagit counties have made an arrest in an unsolved double murder. They used similar methods to find this cold case suspect that brought the Golden State Killer to justice.
The 1987 double murder of a young couple visiting Seattle from British Columbia had baffled detectives for decades. Tanya Van Cuylonberg was 18 when she went missing. She vanished along with her 20-year-old boyfriend Jay Cook while they were on a road trip to Seattle. She was found raped and murdered days after going missing. Cook’s body was discovered shortly after that. Now, thanks to DNA evidence and modern technology detectives believe they have cracked this cold case.
“Snohomish County detectives obtained DNA samples just a few days ago,” said Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichrdt. “The crime lab ran that DNA sample, and confirmed that the DNA belongs to the same person who left the DNA at the crime scene in 1987.”
Read more about this cold case and recent developments here.
Cold case suspect found on website
Police have arrested William Earl Talbott of SeaTac for the murders. Talbott allegedly tossed out a cup he was drinking from recently. Detectives grabbed it and were able to link the DNA from the cup to DNA found at the 1987 crime scene.
Investigators were initially led to Talbott using modern genetic genealogy methods unavailable in 1987. A lab matched DNA from the crime to DNA on a genealogy website, which in turn put them on Talbott’s trail. This is similar to how authorities recently cracked the Golden State Killer cold case.
Skagit and Snohomish County detectives are looking to speak with anybody who may have known Talbott in 1987 or 1988, when he would have been 24 and living in Woodinville. They’re also looking for the camera that Tanya had in her possession at the time.
Thirty-one years later, the families of the victims are relieved.
“It is our first day without the weight, the burden, the hurting that comes from not knowing who killed my brother Jay, and his sweet, shy girlfriend,” Jay’s sister said.