(Photo By Charles Biles/The Associated Press)

56-year-old William Earl Talbott II from SeaTac, Washington has been found guilty of viciously murdering a young Saanich couple who were in the U.S. for an overnight trip in 1987.

According to US news sources, a jury in Snohomish County Superior Court deliberated for several days before finding Talbott guilty of aggravated murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Tanya Van Cuylenborg and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Jay Cook.

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The two Oak Bay High School graduates borrowed a van from Jay Cook’s father to pick up furnace parts for him, and headed to Port Angeles on November 18th, 1987 via the Coho ferry.

They were last seen in the Bremerton-Seattle area, and were reported missing on November 20th, 1987.

On November 24th, Tanya van Cuylenborg’s body was discovered in a ditch on a rural road near Alger in Skagit County, about 20 kilometres south of Bellingham. She was found naked from the waist down and then shot in the head.

On November 26th, 1987, Jay Cook’s body was found under a bridge near Monroe, Washington. He had been beaten with rocks and strangled to death with twine and two red dog collars.

(Jay Cook, 20, and Tanya van Cuylenborg, 18)

Gruesome details

At the time of the initial investigation, authorities found semen, blood, and handprints left by the suspect on Cuylenborg’s clothing and the couple’s van – however they were not able to match these pieces of evidence to a suspect.

The question of who committed these heinous crimes remained a mystery for decades, until 2018 when a genealogist at a DNA lab in Virginia used the public genealogy database to find distant relatives of the person who left the DNA.

By using cutting edge technology, they were able to determine its source, and use DNA phenotyping to create and release sketches of what the suspect may look like.

Within a month, tese breakthroughs led police to identify and arrest William Talbott.

At the time of the killings, Talbott was 24 year olds and living close to where Cook’s body was later found.