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A 58-year-old American man who now lives in the Netherlands was arrested for the strangulation murder of a woman 30 years ago after authorities allegedly linked him to the crime through new DNA technology.
John Kevin Woodward was taken into custody last week at JFK International Airport after his flight arrived in New York City from Amsterdam.
Prosecutors have long suspected Woodward in the case, alleging that he was “openly jealous” of the victim, 25-year-old Laurie Houts, because he had “developed an unrequited romantic attachment to his roommate,” who was Houts’ boyfriend.
Houts, a computer engineer at Adobe Systems, was found strangled to death in her car after she left work on September 5, 1992.
Woodward was tried twice for the crime in the 1990s, but both trials resulted in a hung jury. A judge dismissed the case after the second attempt, saying that new evidence would need to be presented to try him again for the same crime.
Mountain View Police Department detectives reopened the case in late 2020 and submitted evidence to the Santa Clara County Crime Lab for analysis.
Last year, detectives were able to link Woodward to the rope that was found around Houts’ neck using “new developments in forensic science technology,” the Santa Clara County District Attorney said this week.
“Over 80 latent fingerprints that were also collected at the time of Laurie’s death were re-examined by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Identification Unit, which resulted in even more fingerprints matching Woodward,” the Mountain View Police Department said.
The Justice Department also coordinated with Dutch authorities to execute a search warrant at Woodward’s home in the Netherlands, where multiple computers and USB drives were seized.
Houts’ family said that they are hopeful that the justice can be served 30 years after Laurie was murdered.
“The way Laurie lived and treated people was a stunning example of what was right in the world,” the family said in a statement. “She was a gem to so many, but her bright life was taken from us at the age of 25.”
Woodward, the CEO of online training company Readytech, will be extradited to Santa Clara County.