On November 18, 1987, Jay Cook and his high-school sweetheart, Tanya Van Cuylenborg, took the ferry from Victoria, Canada, to Washington State to go camping. Jay was 20 years old. Tanya was 17. It was their first trip together and they’d planned on a romantic getaway.
It was just an overnight trip; Jay and Tanya were expected home the next day. When their families didn’t hear from them the following evening, they began to worry. Sometime during their journey, Jay and Tanya’s peaceful vacation turned into a violent nightmare.
It was not long before Jay and Tanya’s bodies were found. Investigators believe it was most likely that Jay and Tanya met their killer on the 10:20 p.m. ferry from Bremerton to Seattle, and that it may not have been the killer’s first murder.
Jay and Tanya’s case remained cold until May 2018, when authorities took 55-year-old William Talbott II into custody and charged him in connection with the murders of Jay and Tanya. The break in the case came when forensic experts created a profile on a genealogy website based on the DNA gathered from the case. It came back with a match to a relative of Talbott’s.
In June 2019, Talbott’s trial will begin, and it will be the first legal test of using genetic genealogy to identify a suspect. The alleged Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, was also identified using genetic genealogy, and the trial results may even impact that case.
We will bring you more as the case develops.