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)

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

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. (tofinohiking.com photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino’s mayoralty candidates lay out key differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Clockwise from top right, chamber executive director Jen Dart moderated a Zoom-based forum last week where Tofino’s mayoralty candidates J.J. Belanger, Andrea McQuade and Dan Law made their pitch to lead their community. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Tofino mayoralty candidates face off at forum

Town to elect new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Most Read