A trial will begin in June for a Seattle-area man charged with killing a young Saanich couple more than 30 years ago.
William Earl Talbott II was arrested in May 2018 and is facing two charges of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Jay Cook, 20, and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18. His jury trial is scheduled for June 3.
Cook and van Culeynborg were reported missing on Nov. 20, 1987. They went Victoria to Port Angeles on Nov. 18, 1987, via the Coho ferry. The couple were driving the Cook family van and were last seen in the Bremerton-Seattle area when they bought tickets at the Bremerton ferry dock.
Van Cuylenborg’s body was discovered in a ditch 20 kilometres south of Bellingham, Wash. on Nov. 24, 1987. She had been restrained with zip-tie fasteners and sexually assaulted.
Then on Nov. 26, 1987, Cook’s body was found south of Monroe, Wash. about an hour’s drive away near the Washington State Reformatory. His body was covered by a blue blanket that did not belong to the couple. He had been strangled and restrained with the same type of zip-tie fasteners as Van Cuylenborg.
Their murders became a cold case for more than 30 years before Talbott was arrested in May 2018. Investigators had uploaded DNA from the crime scene to a public, online genealogy database. They used a family tree to identify Talbott as a suspect.
Investigators then confirmed a match after collecting a fresh DNA sample from a paper cup Talbott used while he was under surveillance.
Police have said they do not know what the motive was for the killings.
If Talbott is convicted, he will not face the death penalty. In 2018, the Supreme Court in Washington state declared the death penalty unconstitutional. The sentences of eight men who were on death row in the state were commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
With files from Louise Dickson, Times Colonist