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California Cops Make Arrest In Decades-Old Cold Case. It's The Suspect's Third Time Facing Charges In The Killing.

cold case arrest
Source: Mountain View police; Unsplash

Jul. 12 2022, Published 3:25 p.m. ET

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A Tech CEO is now behind bars and accused of killing his roommate’s girlfriend decades ago.

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On July 12, officials in California announced the arrest in the cold case killing of Laurie Houts. John Kevin Woodward, 58, was arrested last week after arriving in New York on a flight from Amsterdam, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in California. He awaits extradition to face murder charges.

It’s the third time Woodward has faced charges in connection to Houts’ death.

He was tried twice unsuccessfully in the late 1990s, officials said. The case was dismissed by a judge for insufficient evidence after a jury didn’t reach a verdict following a second trial. The first trial ended in a hung jury.

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Woodward, the President and CEO of Readytech, then fled to the Netherlands after the case was dismissed, prosecutors said.

Houts was found dead in her vehicle on Sept. 5, 1992. She was strangled to death with a rope and her footprints were on the interior windshield.

Romantic troubles

Woodward was identified as a suspect, according to prosecutors. Investigators said he was jealous after developing romantic feelings for his roommate, Houts’ boyfriend. He had no alibi.

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His fingerprints were found outside the vehicle, but investigators could not put him inside the car. In 2021, Woodward was linked to the rope used to strangle the victim to death.

“I want Ms. Houts family and friends to know that we never gave up on her. Neither time nor distance will stop us from finding out the truth and seeking justice,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said.


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