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

Just Posted

City of Victoria considers proposed senior rental development

The Mount St. Angela’s complex aims to include affordable rental units

Middle school students busted for vaping in Oak Bay

Oak Bay Police respond to minors vaping, arson, and transients sleeping in a car

Peninsula Panthers look to claw their way back into the win column

Panthers remain the best team in the league, but the Victoria Cougars are set to pounce

Last call for raffle ticket to win $6,900 necklace with 163 diamonds

Oak Bay contest funds patient care for people and families dealing with cancer

More than 30 cars get tires slashed in Oaklands neighbourhood

VicPD are asking for help from witnesses to the incidents

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

According to a press release, both parties met on Oct. 16, 18, 19, and 20.

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

Most Read