Arrest made in 1987 Snohomish County cold case

UPDATE: William Earl Talbott II, 55, from SeaTac was arrested May 17 in the 1987 double homicide cold case of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg.

Snohomish County Sheriff's deputies announced the arrest at 11 a.m. Friday, May 18.

The family reacted to the arrest at the news conference.

Laura Baanstra, Jay Cook’s sister said, “The killer had his last sleep in his own bed. His last coffee break, his last day of freedom. For my family and I, it’s our first day without the weight, the burden, the hurting that comes from not knowing what killed my brother Jay, and his sweet, shy girlfriend Tanya.”

Tanya Van Cuylenborg’s brother John added, “They were both gentle souls, caring and trusting kids, and they were betrayed.  Hopefully this is a start of some justice for them.”

Detective James H. Scharf of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office told reporters, “Had law enforcement never had access to genetic genealogy,  I don’t believe this case could ever be solved.”

KIRO 7 livestreamed the briefing on our news app.

KIRO 7 reporter Deedee Sun will have a live report from Snohomish County with reaction from the victims' families on KIRO 7 News at 5 p.m. 

ORIGINAL TEXT: With the help of DNA technology, the Snohomish County Sheriff Office has new information in a cold case involving two young people who were brutally murdered in 1987. It could bring a new lead in the case, but detectives are asking the public for help.

Police said Thursday they've now received hundreds of tips. Watch a detailed report on the investigation tonight on KIRO 7 News at 7 p.m.

>> See photos from the case here 

On Nov. 18, 1987, Jay Cook, 21, and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, left British Columbia, Canada, in a Ford Club wagon for Seattle. They planned on picking up a part for Cook’s father, and would return the next day to Canada via I-5.

After the pair bought a ticket for the Bremerton to Seattle ferry, neither of their families ever saw them again.

On Nov. 24, Cuylenborg's partially clothed body was found in Skagit County in a ditch in a wooded area off Parson’s Creek Road between Old Hwy 99 and Prairie Road. The next day, Cook’s van was located in Whatcom County locked up and abandoned in a Blue Diamond parking lot near State and Holly Streets in Bellingham.




On Nov. 26, Cook's body was found in Snohomish County along Crescent Lake Road, near High Bridge Road, on the Snoqualmie River, which is approximately three-quarters mile west of the old Washington State Reformatory’s Honor Farm near Monroe.

Detectives exhausted all leads in the years following their deaths, but now, DNA evidence produced predictions for a person of interest.

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Individual predictions were made for the subject’s ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape. By combining these attributes of appearance, a snapshot composite was produced depicting how the suspect may have looked at 25 years old. Two more composites were made depicting how he may look at 45 and 65 years old.

"Jay and Tanya were brutally murdered and, more than three decades later, their killer has yet to be brought to justice," said Sheriff Ty Trenary. "We hope this new technology will help us positively identify a suspect and finally provide answers for their families."




Family members are offering a reward up to $50,000 to anyone who can provide information by Dec. 31, 2018, that leads to the positive identification of the suspect through a DNA match.

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Detectives are also looking to track down a 35mm Minolta camera that belonged to Tanya. The camera lens was recovered and traced to a pawn shop in Portland, Oregon, in 1990. The camera body is still missing.

“We know someone out there knows something that can help us with this case,” said Detective Jim Scharf. “Maybe somebody gave you a 35mm Minolta camera, or you bought this type of camera from someone around that time. The smallest detail could end up being the lead we need to solve this case.”

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