Led by defense attorney Rachel Forde, William Earl Talbott II enters Snohomish County Superior Court on Tuesday in Everett to be arraigned for the 1987 murders of Jay Cook, 20, and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Led by defense attorney Rachel Forde, William Earl Talbott II enters Snohomish County Superior Court on Tuesday in Everett to be arraigned for the 1987 murders of Jay Cook, 20, and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Defendant in 1987 slayings of BC couple pleads not guilty

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.

EVERETT — A SeaTac man appeared in a Snohomish County courtroom for the first time Tuesday to plead not guilty to the 1987 murders of a young Canadian couple.

The families of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg filled a long row of the courtroom gallery when William Earl Talbott II, 55, entered the courtroom in a white buttondown shirt and a blue tie.

In front of news cameras, Superior Court Judge Millie Judge allowed him to be unshackled, in street clothes.

Talbott, a trucker who grew up in Woodinville, is charged with the aggravated murders of Cook, 20, and Van Cuylenborg, 18. They were killed 30 years ago on a road trip from their hometown of Saanich, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island, to the SoDo district of Seattle. The couple was on an errand to pick up furnace parts for Cook’s father. They never showed up.

Days later, a passerby found Van Cuylenborg’s body off a road 80 miles north, near Alger in Skagit County. She had been sexually assaulted, shot in the head and dumped in the woods.

The body of Cook was discovered that week under a bridge near Monroe. He appeared to have been beaten with rocks and strangled.

Talbott’s parents lived six miles from the bridge, a straight-shot of a drive with only one turn, according to charging papers.

In 1987, the defendant worked as a delivery driver with a route that passed by Gensco, the business that was the couple’s destination, according to a friend’s report recounted in the charges.

The case went unsolved for 30 years. Talbott was not a suspect until a new analysis of DNA evidence led a genetic genealogist and cold case detectives to identify him by way of second cousins who had uploaded their DNA to public genealogy sites in search of relatives.

Detectives picked up one of those relatives, Talbott, on a murder warrant in May. If convicted, he faces life in prison. Talbott’s next hearing was set for July 18.

________

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

A train route that would shuttle people between Eastern and Western Washington could tie in with the proposed ultra-high-speed rail between B.C. and Portland. Photo courtesy RobertStafford/Pixabay.com
State receives King County to Spokane rail study

It would take about eight and a half hours to reach the Inland Empire from Puget Sound.

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo
Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

State regulators keep Puget Sound Energy rates steady

Rate adjustments ease economic impact during COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Tilley (left) and Katie Dearman work the wash station Friday at Kate’s Greek American Deli in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Governor’s no-mask, no-service order begins across Washington

“Just do not ring up the sale,” Gov. Jay Inslee said about customers who do not don the proper masks.

King County homeless count: 11,751 people, up 5 percent from 2019

One night a year, volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County… Continue reading

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

AG Ferguson wants to require law enforcement statewide to report all uses of deadly force

Report to Legislature recommends centralized, easily accessible statewide website on incidents

Most Read