British Columbia

Seattle man pleads not guilty in 1987 deaths of Saanich couple

The man accused of killing a Victoria couple 30 years ago in Washington state has pleaded not guilty

DNA match led to arrest 30 years after double homicide

Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg of Saanich, B.C., were killed in Washington State in 1987. (Crime Stoppers)

The man accused of killing a Victoria couple in Washington State 30 years ago has pleaded not guilty.

William Earl Talbott ll appeared in a Snohomish County courtroom Tuesday charged with two counts of aggravated first degree murder. 

Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and Jay Cook, 20, both of Saanich, B.C., were last seen alive on Nov. 18, 1987. Their bodies were found within days of their disappearance and police had been baffled by the case until earlier this year.

Talbott was taken into custody in May after a DNA test came back as a positive match to DNA collected from the crime scene more than three decades ago.

Jay Cook's body was found under this bridge in Monroe, Wash. He had been beaten and strangled to death. (CBC archives)

Investigators said Talbott was 24 years old at the time of the killings and living in Woodinville, Wash.

Talbott, who has worked as a truck driver over the past 20 years, had no criminal record save for a charge of indecent exposure and was never the subject of a tip or on any law enforcement list.

DNA breakthrough

He was identified through the same DNA genealogy analysis used to capture the Golden State killer in April.

Experts from Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia were able to identify Talbott's great grandparents and family tree using public genealogy databases.

They then worked forward to identify Talbott himself. 

Police subsequently obtained a DNA sample from a cup Talbott had used to make the positive identification.

"Without [genetic genealogy] we wouldn't be here today," said Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt.

With files from Karin Larsen

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