Tech CEO Arrested over 1992 Silicon Valley Cold Case Murder

murder victim Laurie Houts
Mountain View Police Department

The CEO of software company ReadyTech, John Woodward, has been arrested in connection with the 1992 murder of computer engineer Laurie Houts in Mountain View, California, the heart of Silicon Valley. Woodward has faced trial twice in the murder, with both trials ending in hung juries. Authorities believe that new DNA techniques have finally provided the evidence needed to prove their case.

The Mercury News reports that tech entrepreneur John Woodward, the CEO of ReadyTech, was arrested as he landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City in relation to the murder of computer engineer Laurie Houts on September 5, 1992. Houts was found fatally strangled in her car near a California garbage dump.

At the time of the initial investigation, Woodward, who was the roommate of the victim’s boyfriend, was arrested in connection with the case, but two hung juries resulted in the case being dismissed. Woodward moved to the Netherlands soon afterward.

Google's main campus is seen as a sit-in to protest against Google's retaliation against workers takes place within Google's main cafeteria in Mountain View, California on May 1, 2019. (Photo by Amy Osborne / AFP) (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Google’s main campus in Mountain View, California on May 1, 2019. (Photo by Amy Osborne / AFP)

Woodward is set to be extradited to Santa Clara County by the end of the month, according to District Attorney Jeff Rosen. Once arriving in the county, Woodward will be arraigned for the third time in the murder of Houts.

Houts’ sister told the Mercury News: “I was thrilled and very excited. Then you come down off that. Nothing is going to bring your loved person back. They’re gone. Even if it feels good in a way to have justice, it doesn’t cure the problem. It’s not like if you win, you get your sister back.”

30 years ago, Houts’ body was discovered by a passerby near her office at Adobe Systems in Mountain View with a rope around her neck. Footprints were also seen on the inside of her windshield, which the district attorney’s office said was “a sign of her struggle with Woodward.”

Forensic scientists successfully matched Woodward to fingerprints found outside the car, but investigators could not prove that he had been inside the vehicle. However, when Houts’ boyfriend called Woodward while being monitored by the police, Woodward “did not deny” killing Houts. Instead, he asked what evidence authorities had against him, and suggested to Houts’ boyfriend that they “meet in a parking lot” to talk more.

Woodward was arrested that same year, with prosecutors alleging that he had developed an “unrequited” romantic interest in Houts’ boyfriend. Woodward has faced a murder trial two times for the murder; in both cases, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the major break in the case is the application of new DNA techniques as well as new fingerprint evidence, both of which contributed to Woodward’s arrest.

Houts’ family released a statement following Woodward’s arrest, stating: “The way Laurie lived and treated people was a stunning example of what was right in the world. She was a gem to so many, but her bright life was taken from us at the age of 25. We are hopeful that justice can finally be served for Laurie and incredibly appreciative of the law enforcement agencies who have never given up on her.”

Read more at Mercury News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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