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Thursday, March 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Trucker charged in 1987 deaths of couple

UPDATED: Sat., June 16, 2018, 12:58 p.m.

William Earl Talbott II enters the courtroom at the Skagit County Community Justice Center on May 18, 2018, before entering a plea of not guilty for the 1987 murder of Tanya Van Cuylenborg in Mount Vernon, Wash. (Charles Biles / Skagit Valley Herald)
William Earl Talbott II enters the courtroom at the Skagit County Community Justice Center on May 18, 2018, before entering a plea of not guilty for the 1987 murder of Tanya Van Cuylenborg in Mount Vernon, Wash. (Charles Biles / Skagit Valley Herald)
Associated Press

EVERETT – A Washington state trucker who authorities say was linked by DNA evidence to the 1987 deaths of a young Canadian couple has been charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

William Earl Talbott II, 55, of SeaTac was charged Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court, the Daily Herald reported.

Authorities say they used information from public genealogy websites to pinpoint Talbott as a suspect then arrested him after getting a DNA sample from a cup that fell from his truck.

Talbott is charged in the killings of 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg and 20-year-old Jay Cook.

“From all available information, these acts of violence were as random as they were savage,” Craig Matheson, Snohomish County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor, wrote in court documents.

Talbott is being held in the Skagit County Community Justice Center with no bail. It wasn’t clear if he has an attorney.

Van Cuylenborg and Cook left their Saanich, British Columbia, homes for an overnight trip to Seattle to buy furnace parts for Cook’s family business.

When they failed to return home, their families filed a missing persons report. Their bodies were found days later.

Van Cuylenborg had been sexually assaulted, bound with plastic ties and shot in the head. Investigators say the assault evidence provided a direct link to Talbott.

Cook’s battered body was found about 75 miles away. Police said he was beaten with rocks and strangled.

Police said a genealogist used the DNA evidence and worked with a lab to build a family tree for the suspect.

Police said the genealogist used information uploaded by distant cousins to narrow their search to Talbott.

Police kept him under surveillance and finally got his DNA when a cup fell from his truck.

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