Trial begins for cold case of murdered Canadian couple

EVERETT, Wash. – The double murder trial of a SeaTac man is now underway in Everett.

It’s a cold case that baffled investigators for more than 30 years.

Jay Cook, 20, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Tanya Van Cuylenborg, were found killed, their bodies dumped in Skagit and Snohomish counties in November of 1987. Prosecutors say it would take decades to find their killer – and it would take DNA genealogy to identify a suspect.

William Talbott, 56, faces murder for a crime that prosecutors say he committed when he was barely half his current age.

“This is a case about two lives lost far too long in two extremely violent acts,” said prosecuting attorney Justin Harleman. “The evidence in this case will show you there is only one reasonably possible perpetrator of those acts and that person is William Talbott."

It was November 1987 when Jay and Tanya left Vancouver Island, Seattle bound, for an overnight business trip. But when they didn’t return to Canada the next day, their family became worried and called police.

Their bodies and the van they drove would be found days later, each in multiple locations.

Using a technique called DNA genealogy, investigators say they matched Talbott’s DNA to what was found when Tanya’s body was recovered.

But defense attorneys told the jury most of the evidence is largely circumstantial, and that DNA doesn’t prove Talbott killed the couple.

“There is no other evidence that was tested, and they tested everything with the man, that links to Mr. Talbott in any way,” said defense attorney John Scott.

On Friday, Tanya’s older brother took the stand and said he trusts the American legal system to bring justice for his late sister.

“Definitely been hard, but you have to suppress all those other emotions and feelings in the hopes and trust in the legal process here will get the right answer and get the right result,” said John Van Cuylenborg.

More testimony is expected when the trial resumes Monday.

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