Paper cup, family tree lead to arrest in 1987 murder of young co - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Paper cup, family tree lead to arrest in 1987 murder of young couple

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Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Snohomish County Sheriff's Office
EVERETT, Wash. -

Thirty years after the murders of a young Canadian couple, scientific advances, a family tree and a paper cup have led to an arrest in the case.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office says the 55-year-old Sea-Tac man was arrested Thursday in Seattle and is expected to make a court appearance in Skagit County Friday. 

William Earl Talbott II has been charged in Skagit County District Court with first-degree murder in the death of Tanya Van Cuylenborg. Officials say he may also be charged in the death of Jay Cook.

Lee Cook, Jay Cook's mother, called the news of an arrest bittersweet.

"On the one hand we're a little closer to closure. On the other, we're still at a loss. And I don't have my only son, Jay," she told KOMO News in Seattle

Authorities told KOMO that the arrest was made through genetic genealogy.

DNA samples were found on her body, but no immediate matches were found.

In 2017, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office contacted Parabond NanoLabs in, Reston, Virginia. Its work allowed sketches to be made from the DNA to determine what the killer might look like. Officials released those sketches last month.

Later, the company focused on Talbott after researching a family tree through the DNA, according to court documents obtained by KOMO

Investigators got a DNA sample of Talbott from a paper cup on May 8, 2018. The court documents say that the cup was found near his work truck on West Marginal Way at South Spokane Street.

Officers had been following him and collected it.

Court documents say the DNA from the cup matched the samples taken from Van Cuylenborg's body.

The arrest is the first resulting from Parabon's genetic genealogy service.

But investigators are still looking for more information in the case including anyone who:

• Knew Talbott or knew of his activities in 1987 or 1988 (he would have been 24 years-old at the time of the murders);
• Saw Talbott associated with the Cook family van (see van photo) in November 1987.
• Saw Talbott with a 35mm Minolta camera (see camera photo) that Tanya had in her possession when she was murdered. (The camera’s lens was recovered and traced to a pawn shop in Portland, Oregon in 1990, but the camera body is still missing); 
• Has information about Talbott having access to a light blue blanket (see blanket photo), or know where this type of blanket might have come from around the time the crimes were committed.

Anyone with information related to this case should call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line 425-388-3845.

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