William Earl Talbott II, 55, of SeaTac, is led into court for arraignment in the 1987 death of Tanya Van Cuylenborg at the Skagit County Community Justice Center on Friday in Mount Vernon. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Trial delayed for suspect in 1987 killings of young Saanich couple

Defense lawyers say they still need DNA information and to question witnesses in Canada

Eric Stevick

Daily Herald

The trial for a man accused of killing a Victoria-area couple three decades ago has been delayed.

Judge Linda Krese approved the continuance during a one-hour hearing Thursday afternoon in Snohomish County Superior Court.

SeaTac truck driver William Earl Talbott II, 55, is charged with the aggravated murders of Jay Cook, 20, and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18. The Saanich couple were on an errand to the Puget Sound area to pick up furnace parts for Cook’s father when they were abducted and killed more than 30 years ago.

The trial date has been moved from April 1 to June 3.

RELATED: Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of Victoria couple

RELATED: No death penalty for Washington man accused of killing Saanich couple

Thursday’s motion for a continuance came from defense attorneys. They had previously been eager for the April trial date, and prosecutors were unsure they would be prepared by then.

Deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock said Thursday that his side would have been ready for an April trial having “redoubled our efforts in earnest.”

Defense lawyers said they haven’t yet received important lab notes they will need before they interview DNA experts. They also plan to travel to Canada to talk to other witnesses.

Genetic evidence will be critical at trial. A 2018 analysis of DNA evidence led a genetic genealogist and cold case detectives to identify Talbott as the suspected killer, by way of second cousins who had uploaded their DNA to public genealogy sites. The cousins were searching for relatives.

RELATED: Judge sets bail at $2.5 million in 1987 slaying of Oak Bay couple

RELATED: Arrest made in 30-year homicide cold case of Oak Bay High grads

The June trial date was set after attorneys and the judge compared their calendars. May was ruled out because defense attorney Rachel Forde has a homicide trial scheduled in San Juan County that will take up much of the month. Relatives of one of the victims would be unable to attend in early July.

Forde said there were just too many last minute moving parts for the defense to be ready for the April trial. That includes additional lab testing that was done but only recently came to light.

“I want both sides to have the opportunity to be properly prepared,” Krese said.

The trial is expected to last a month.

Oak Bay High graduates, Cook and Van Cuylenborg were killed in 1987 while on a road trip to Seattle’s industrial area.

RELATED: Arrest made in 30-year homicide cold case of Oak Bay High grads

RELATED: DNA aims to crack 30-year-old murder case of Oak Bay High grads

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.

That week, Cook’s body was discovered beneath a blanket near a bridge south of Monroe. He appeared to have been beaten with rocks and strangled.

Talbott’s parents lived six miles from the bridge, according to charging papers.

If convicted, Talbott faces life in prison.


c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Phase-by-phase look at how Greater Victoria Public Libraries will reopen

GVPL to quarantine returned material for a minimum of 72 hours before lending again

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read