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Tech CEO Arrested In 30-Year-Old Case After New Evidence Discovered

Tech CEO Arrested In 30-Year-Old Case After New Evidence Discovered

Laurie Houts was found dead in her car in September 1992

A tech CEO has been arrested in connection with a 30-year-old murder case thanks to new DNA evidence that ties him to the scene.

John Kevin Woodward, who works as president and CEO of online training company Readytech, was arrested on Monday, 11 July, after arriving at JFK Airport in New York from his home in the Netherlands.

Yesterday's arrest marked the third time the 58-year-old has been arraigned in connection with the death of 25-year-old Laurie Houts, but this time authorities are relying on DNA evidence collected using new techniques, as well as new fingerprints.

Laurie was the girlfriend of Woodward's roommate.
Mountain View Police Department

Houts, who worked as a computer engineer, had been the girlfriend of Woodward's roommate before she was found dead in 1992.

Her body was discovered in her car near a rubbish dump about a mile away from her workplace in Mountain View, California. There was a rope around her neck and footprints on the interior of the car windshield, which the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office claimed was 'a sign of her struggle with Woodward'.

Prosecutors have claimed Woodward killed Houts after developing an 'unrequited romantic attachment' to the 25-year-old, with Woodward first being arrested in connection with Houts' death in the year that she died.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office noted Woodward had no alibi for the night the killing took place, and when Houts' boyfriend asked Woodward if he had killed Houts, the tech exec responded by asking what the investigators knew.

Woodward's fingerprints were found on the outside of Houts' car, but at the time investigators were unable to show he was inside the vehicle. When the case went to trial, it initially resulted in a hung jury, prompting a second trial which returned the same outcome.

After the second trial, the trial judge said new evidence would be needed to retry Woodward again. Woodward then relocated to the Netherlands.

Detectives began to re-examine the case in late 2020, when they resubmitted items from the investigation for renewed analysis. This time, DNA samples collected from evidence at the scene came back matching Woodward's DNA, and a re-examination of more than 80 fingerprints found more matches to Woodward.

Laurie Houts worked as a computer engineer at Adobe Systems.
Mountain View Police Department

Commenting on the newfound evidence in a press release, Mountain View Police Chief Chris Hsiung said: "This case is the culmination of incredible determination by our detectives over the decades and with phenomenal teamwork with our agency partners here in Santa Clara County and in New York.

"I am honoured that our agency finally gets to give hope to Laurie's family that they can see a successful prosecution carried out. It bears repeating – we do not give up on justice for victims, no matter what."

Houts' family have expressed their hopes justice can 'finally be served' for the 25-year-old, who they described as a 'gem to so many'.

Woodward is set to be extradited to Santa Clara County following his arrest in New York. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

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Featured Image Credit: Mountain View Police Department

Topics: Crime, Science, Technology, US News