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)

Judge sets bail at $2.5 million in 1987 slaying of B.C. couple

William Talbott II, 55, is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder

  • Dec. 14, 2018 7:30 a.m.

The issue Thursday was bail: Should it be allowed and, if so, how much?

The prosecution and defense attorneys had stated their arguments.

Before Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese ruled, she agreed to listen to one more perspective.

John Van Cuylenborg lost his sister in November 1987. He described Thursday how his parents “were never the same,” and how he continues to be haunted by the thought of his sister’s and her boyfriend’s last hours.

Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and Jay Cook, 20, of Saanich, British Columbia, disappeared while on a road trip that took them to Seattle.

A week later, Van Cuylenborg’s body was found in the woods off a rural road in Skagit County. She’d been raped and shot in the head. Cook’s body later was found beneath a blanket near a bridge south of Monroe. He’d been beaten and strangled.

READ MORE: Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of Victoria couple

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

William Talbott II, 55, is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder. On Thursday, he sat between his two defense attorneys. Nearby, John Van Cuylenborg urged the judge to make sure Talbott wouldn’t get out before his trial, which is set to start in late March.

“I would encourage the court not to reopen the door” for the possibility that another family could suffer similar anguish, he said.

Krese ultimately agreed to allow bail, but she set it at $2.5 million. She said there would be a large risk of the defendant fleeing, given that he faces life in prison if convicted.

Rachel Forde, one of Talbott’s defense attorneys, told the judge that her client has roots in King and Snohomish counties. She asked for $100,000 bail. She provided letters from his friends and acquaintances who vouched for his character, including one Monroe resident who described him as “a very respectful man” with “a heart of gold.” Forde said he would surrender his passport and agree to electronic monitoring. She also said Talbott could have left any time over the past 30 years, but chose to stay.

Deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock said Talbott would have plenty of reason to run now that he is charged.

“If there is a stronger incentive to flee, I don’t know what it is,” he said.

For three decades, Talbott’s name never made a list of more than 300 potential suspects, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Then, earlier this year, a new analysis of DNA evidence led a genetic genealogist and cold case detectives to identify him as the suspected killer, by way of second cousins who had uploaded their DNA to public genealogy sites. The cousins were searching for relatives.

When he was arrested, Talbott was living in SeaTac and working as a trucker. In the 1980s, his parents lived six miles from the bridge where Cook’s body was found, according to charging papers.

Eric Stevick, Everett Herald

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

World Maritime Day – Sept. 24

Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet

‘Water Quality Advisory’ lifted for Prince Rupert

Some Prince Rupert residents are still under a ‘Boil Water Notice’

Liberals and Greens yet to announce North Coast candidates

North Coast candidates have until two weeks before the election to name contenders

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Transgender B.C. brothers debut fantasy novel as author duo Vincent Hunter

‘Transgender people are being misrepresented in popular fiction and media, and we aim to change that’

Most Read