This spring, the American media was dazzled to find out that the infamous "Golden State Killer" had been unmasked as Joseph DeAngelo thanks to a new type of DNA forensic testing. Specifically, DeAngelo was named as the chief suspect in the long dormant case because investigators were able to track his DNA (several samples of which were found at GSK and East Area Rapist crime scenes) via a private genealogical research company.

Just north of California, in the state of Washington, another cold case has been solved thanks to genealogical testing. William Earl Talbott III, 55, of SeaTac, Washington has been arrested and charged with the 1987 murders of Canadian couple, 20-year-old Jay Cook and 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg.

The arrest occurred last Thursday.

On November 18, 1987, Cook and Van Cuylenborg traveled from Saainch, British Columbia to Seattle for a brief, overnight trip. The couple was last seen driving a brown 1977 Ford van. Days later, on November 24th, a man walking on a desolate road near Bellingham, Washington discovered Van Cuylenborg's body. The victim had been sexually violated, and she was discovered with her hands bound with plastic ties. She had also been shot in the head.

Cook's body was found 75 miles away near Monroe, Washington. When the couple's van was found, police were able to recover DNA evidence from Van Cuylenborg's killer. Now that Talbott has been named as the chief suspect in the slaying, Snohomish County police are asking the public's help for information regarding Talbott's activities between 1987 and 1988.

Privacy concerns

As in the case of the Golden State Killer, the use of genealogical data to catch Talbott worries many who suspect that their private information may now be in the hands of cold case detectives or other public officials. In response to the Golden State Killer case, CeCe Moore of Parabon NanoLabs told Buzzfeed that the company's genealogical research unit has uploaded DNA taken from approximately 100 crime scenes to the website for

This is the same company that handled DeAngelo's DNA and matched his genetic sequence with the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist.

The Atlantic reports that Talbott's DNA was tracked through a second cousin and a half-first cousin once removed. Given the high profile nature of both of these cases, the public can expect more cold cases to be solved via genetic genealogy.

What we know

So far, we know that Talbott worked as a truck driver in 1987. Also at the time of the crime Talbott lived at his parents' home on NE Woodinville-Duvall Road, which was less than seven miles from the site where Cook's body was found. As for Talbott's criminal record, he was charged with misdemeanor assault in 1984. He was then ordered to attend anger management counseling. Four years later, in 1988, Talbott had warrants issued after he missed hearings and bailed on paying fines.