Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg were murdered after travelling to Washington state in 1987. TheSnohomish County Sheriffs Department will hold a press conference Wednesday to discuss new evidence inthe murders of the Victoria couple. (Photo submitted)

Police hope new tools will help solve 30-year-old murder

New DNA analysis being used on case of Victoria couple killed in Washington state

Police are hoping to write a new chapter to a 30-year-old murder mystery.

It’s been more than 30 years since a Victoria couple were found murdered during a trip into Washington state. Jay Cook, 20, and 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg were running an errand to Washington state and borrowed Cook’s father’s van to make the journey. The Oak Bay high school sweethearts, who were living in Saanich at the time, boarded the Coho Ferry on Nov. 18, 1987, crossing to Port Angeles. They were last seen alive in the Bremerton/Seattle area.

The Snohomish County Sheriffs Department has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday in Everett, Wash. to unveil new information learned from Snapshot DNA phenotyping. The victims’ family members will also be on hand for the press conference.

Snapshot is a new forensic DNA analysis service that accurately predicts the physical appearance and ancestry of an unknown person from DNA.

“It sounds like it’s pretty exciting, pretty new,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie with Saanich Police, adding the investigation has primarily been focused in Washington state.

A timeline into the couple’s disappearance reveals they were reported as missing on Nov. 20, 1987. Four days later, Van Cuylenborg’s body was discovered in a ditch on a rural road near Alger, about 20 kilometres south of Bellingham. She had been sexually assaulted and then shot.

On Nov. 25, Van Cuylenborg’s wallet and keys were found discarded behind a Bellingham tavern. The van is located next to the Bellingham Greyhound bus station.

Cook’s body was found on Nov. 26 under a bridge near Monroe, Wash. Cook had been beaten and strangled.

Following the discovery of their bodies, their van was located in Bellingham; the van was beside a Greyhound station and some of Van Cuylenborg’s belongings behind a nearby local tavern.

Anyone with information is asked to contact local police or Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-222-8477 or on the web at victoriacrimestoppers.com.

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