John Kevin Woodward is an American man who is the president and CEO of online training company Readytech, was arrested on Saturday at New York’s JFK airport after arriving from Amsterdam.
John Kevin Woodward Murder Allegation; Laurie Houts Murder
The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office announced on Monday that Woodward had been charged for the third time in the death of Laurie Houts, a 25-year-old computer engineer.
The DA’s Office stated Woodward was being jailed without bail in New York while awaiting extradition from California.
He was previously tried twice for Houts’ murder in the 1990s, with the case against him thrown by a judge for inadequate evidence when a jury in the second trial could not reach a judgment.
He relocated to the Netherlands after the second case was dismissed.
Woodward could face life in prison if convicted of the current charge against him, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
According to the DA’s Office, Houts was found dead in her automobile in September 1992, with the rope used to strangle her still wrapped around her neck.
A passerby discovered her dead about a mile from her employment, outside a building on Crittenden Lane in Mountain View, which is now part of Google’s global headquarters facility.
Woodward was recognized as the major suspect in Houts’ murder by detectives at the time, with the DA’s Office saying he was “openly envious” of her connection with his roommate, for whom he had developed unrequited sexual affections.
According to officials, Woodward had no alibi at the time of the murder, and when questioned about Houts’ death by his roommate, he “asked what the investigators knew.”
Despite the fact that his fingerprints were found on the outside of Houts’ car thirty years ago, investigators were unable to prove that Woodward was inside her vehicle, but last year, the Santa Clara County Crime Lab and Mountain View Police Department detectives used new forensic technology to link him to the rope found around her neck.
The US Department of Justice and Dutch authorities subsequently acquired a search warrant and seized various laptops and USB drives from Woodward’s home and business addresses in the Netherlands.
Detectives began re-examining the case in 2020.
How John Kevin Woodward Was Caught
Woodward’s fingerprints were discovered on the car’s exterior, but until last year, forensic specialists lacked the ability to examine the DNA on the rope.
The Santa Clara County Crime Lab examined crime scene samples using modern DNA techniques.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Identification Unit re-examined over 80 latent fingerprints acquired at the time of Laurie’s death, resulting in even more fingerprints matching Woodward.
‘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,’ Moutain View police Chief Chris Hsiung.
‘I am honored 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.’
Laurie Houts was described by her family as ‘vibrant’ and ahead of her time as a woman working in the tech field.
‘Although she was only 5′ tall, she had a huge heart and her humor and spunk were endearing to all,’ her family said in a statement.
‘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.’
Her best friend, Marilyn, spoke with a news outlet, Fox 5 where she stated that Laurie was a fierce athlete despite her size.
‘I was very proud of her and she was stood on her own. Whether it was in the classroom, or us playing co-ed softball, co-ed basketball in college,’ the friend told the station.