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1987 Murder of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

EVERETT, Wash. – Detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office are seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a 1987 double homicide cold case. 

Over the past year, detectives worked with NanoLabs (Parabon), a DNA technology company in Virginia, to generate a composite sketch based on trait predictions for an adult Caucasian male believed to be the suspect in this case.  Parabon specializes in DNA phenotyping, the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence. 

“Jay and Tanya were brutally murdered and, more than three decades later, their killer has yet to be brought to justice,” said Sheriff Ty Trenary. “We hope this new technology will help us positively identify a suspect and finally provide answers for their families.”

On November 18, 1987, 21 year-old Jay Cook and 18 year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg left Saanich, BC, Canada, traveling in Cook’s family van, a bronze 1977 Ford Club wagon, to Genesco Heating, a company in Seattle. Cook and Van Cuylenborg planned on picking up a part for Cook’s father, and return the next day to Canada via I-5.  They took the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, arriving around 4 p.m. There last known whereabouts were when they purchased a ticket at 10:16 p.m. in Bremerton for the Seattle ferry.  Neither Cook nor Van Cuylenborg were seen or heard from again.

On November 24, 1987 Tanya’s partially clothed body was found in Skagit County in a ditch in a wooded area off Parson’s Creek Road between Old Hwy 99 and Prairie Road. On November 25, 1987 Cook’s van was located in Whatcom County locked up and abandoned in a Blue Diamond parking lot near State and Holly Streets in Bellingham. On November 26, 1987 Jay Cook’s body was found in Snohomish County along Crescent Lake Road, near High Bridge Road, on the Snoqualmie River, which is approximately three-quarters mile west of the old Monroe State Reformatory’s Honor Farm.

Detectives from Snohomish and Skagit Counties have been investigating this case since 1987 and have exhausted all leads to date.  DNA evidence collected during the investigation did not match any profiles in any DNA databases available to law enforcement. 

Using DNA phenotyping to generate a composite of the male suspect, detectives hope the public can provide new tips and information that will lead to the identification of the perpetrator. 

Snapshot produced trait predictions for the associated person of interest (POI) using DNA evidence from this investigation. Individual predictions were made for the subject’s ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape. By combining these attributes of appearance, Snapshot produced composite sketches depicting what the POI may have looked like at 25 years-old, 45 years-old and 65 years-old. 

“We are looking for anyone who knows something related to this case, or can identify a person of interest from the Parabon DNA prediction images,” said Investigations Captain Jeff Miller. “Maybe you were too afraid to come forward at the time, or thought someone else would. Now is the time to share what you may have seen or heard.” 

Detectives are also looking to track down a 35mm Minolta camera that belonged to Tanya. The camera lens was recovered and traced to a pawn shop in Portland, Oregon in 1990. The camera body is still missing.

“We know someone out there knows something that can help us with this case,” said Detective Jim Scharf. “Maybe a relative gave you a 35mm Minolta camera for your birthday that year, or you bought this type of camera from your neighbor around this time. The smallest detail could end up being the lead we need to solve this case.” 

Family members and friends are offering a reward up to $50,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the positive identification of the suspect through a DNA match. 

If you, or anyone you know, has information related to this case or can identify a possible person of interest, please call either the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office information line 1-425-388-3845, the Saanich Police information line at 1-888-980-1919 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477). 

Sgt. Jereme Leslie #228


Suspect at 25 years:

Susp 25.JPG


Suspect at 45 years:

Susp 45.JPG


Suspect at 65 years:

Susp 65.JPG

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