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.

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

 

Just Posted

A sentencing hearing began for Joel Conway who was convicted of break and enter and sexual assault last year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Saanich man sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into woman’s home and sexually assaulting her

Crown is asking Joel Conway be sentenced to four years for both charges, to be served concurrent

Victoria fire crews quickly extinguished a multi-unit apartment building fire near Beacon Hill Park on Oct. 30. (Courtesy of Chief Paul Bruce)
Victoria fire crews extinguish multi-unit fire near Beacon Hill Park

Two people have suffered non-life-threatening injuries

Blanshard Street, between Burdett Avenue and Douglas Street, will be closed to traffic Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 while crews repave the road. (City of Victoria)
TRAFFIC ALERT: Section of Blanshard Street will be closed this weekend

Crews will be repaving Blanshard Street between Burdett Avenue and Douglas Street

Victoria police are asking for help locating 14-year-old, high-risk missing youth, Anabella Lilly. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seek help locating high-risk missing youth

Police say the circumstances under which 14-year-old Anabella Lilly went missing are ‘high-risk’

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read