Same Genealogy Research that Caught Golden State Killer Solves Infamous Washington State Double Murder

Parabon NanoLabs DNA-rendered portrait of suspect

In 1987 someone brutally murdered 20-year-old Jay Cook and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Tanya Van Cuylenborg. The case went cold until this week, when police in Seattle arrested 55-year-old William Earl Talbott II. They reportedly found Talbott using the same methods that led to the capture of the alleged Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo.

The double homicide became famous due to Unsolved Mysteries, which aired a chilling segment about it in October 1989. Cook and Van Cuylenborg traveled from Victoria, Canada on November 18, 1987 to Seattle. They disappeared after boarding a ferry, only to be found miles apart later that month. Tanya was raped, and both were beaten and strangled.

Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Regarding Talbott’s arrest, KOMO quoted Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary, who said crime scene DNA “was used to identify his ancestors which in turn led us to the identification of Talbott.” Just as in the Golden State Killer investigation, investigators used GEDMatch, a self-serve genealogy database to which users can upload raw genetic data in hopes of finding distant relatives.

Cold case detective Jim Scharf from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Dept. reportedly said that “genetic genealogy that was the key tool that got this case resolved.”

“Had law enforcement never had access to genetic genealogy,” said Scharf, “I don’t believe this case would ever be solved.”

After they identified him as a suspect, police reportedly were able to obtain Talbott’s DNA from a cup he’d left in a work vehicle.

Just a week before Talbott’s arrest, I wrote an article for Real Clear Life titled “Eight Cold Cases That Could Be Cracked by DNA and Genealogy.” I listed the Cook-Van Cuylenborg murder. Apparently police were already closing in on their suspect at the time.

So that’s one down out of the eight. Seven more to go.

[KOMO]

First, The Golden State Killer—Is the Zodiac Killer Next?

Code from the Zodiac

A release distributed by ZodiacKiller.com Wednesday night revealed the inevitable: Investigators in northern California are on the road to seeking a familial DNA match to the mysterious serial killer. The release stated that even after “50 years, the Vallejo (Calif.) Police Dept. is still actively pursuing the Zodiac killer, including through all available forensic resources. DNA testing is underway and the results should be available in June 2018.”

With up-to-date DNA testing, investigators hope they can “glean a full genetic profile of the Zodiac that can be used in an Ancestry-type database.” This is inevitable because it’s exactly how investigators nailed the alleged Golden State Killer (GSK), Joseph James DeAngelo. He was arrested on April 24th, after he was fingered through extensive research into related DNA.

Zodiac Killer suspect sketches

Evidence from the Zodiac undergoing new tests includes the envelopes he used to send his codes to San Francisco media as well as the stamps on those envelopes. As the Zodiac Killer site’s release states, “they were originally tested about 10 years ago and approx. 25% of each stamp and a small portion of the adhesive area of each envelope were used for testing.”

Those tests yielded only marginally useful genetic material. It was compared to the DNA of Arthur Leigh Allen—the most famous Zodiac suspect—and didn’t match.

The ZodiacKiller.com release noted that there is a wealth of evidence police will be able to test “with the new equipment, which can apparently separate DNA from the old glue found on stamps and envelopes, and thus yield better results.”

GSK was arrested the same week Oklahoma police arrested a suspect in the mysterious 1999 disappearance of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman. The day police took Joseph James DeAngelo into custody I joked that it’d be great if the universe pulled a hat trick and revealed the Zodiac’s real identity.

It didn’t happen, but who knows, we may be on our way.

[ZodiacKiller.com]

Reports Indicate There May Have Been an Arrest in the Golden State Killer Investigation

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Golden State Killer suspect sketch; Joseph James DeAngelo

Update: The suspect is Joseph James DeAngelo, a one-time cop and Navy vet. A photo of the younger DeAngelo strongly resembles suspect sketches (see above). He’s currently booked in a Sacramento County Jail on murder charges.

Original post: Fox40 reports that the Sacramento County (CA) Sheriff’s Dept. has had a “significant break” regarding the Golden State Killer. A significant break means an arrest, and I’m aware of rumors that the suspect was targeted after a DNA hit. Remember: the Golden State Killer may have killed as many as 12, and committed dozens of rapes and burglaries. I began crime-blogging anew after Michelle McNamara, author of  I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK—the definitive book about the case—passed away. We were friends, but really, I was a fan. Michelle did this, in a way. She pulled this terrifying monster’s crimes out of the dark. I wish she were here to see it. More information will be out later in the day, including a press conference at noon Pacific Time.