30 Years Later, Tech CEO Charged With The 1992 Cold Case Murder Of Roommate’s Girlfriend

Advances in DNA technology led to the July 2022 arrest of John Kevin Woodward for the murder of 25-year-old Laurie Houts.

July 13, 2022
Laurie Houts was only 25 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found in her vehicle by a passerby on Sep. 5, 1992.

Advances in DNA technology led to the July 11, 2022 arrest of John Kevin Woodward for the murder of 25-year-old Laurie Houts.

Photo by: City of Mountain View Police Department

City of Mountain View Police Department

Thanks to advances in DNA technology, additional evidence, and the dedication of cold case investigators, John Kevin Woodward, the president and CEO of the California-based company ReadyTech, has been charged with the brutal 1992 murder of Laurie Houts. At the time of her death, Houts was the girlfriend of Woodward’s roommate.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office released a statement on July 11, 2022, announcing that Woodward, 58, was arrested when he arrived at the JFK airport in New York City. He was flying in from Amsterdam where he now lives. Still an American citizen, he will be arraigned in Santa Clara County in California where the murder took place.

Woodward was previously tried twice for the murder of Houts in the late 1990’s. In the second trial, the jury could not reach a verdict, so the case was dismissed by the judge because he concluded there was insufficient evidence. Woodward then moved to the Netherlands.

When she learned of the news that Woodward was arrested, Houts’ sister, who requested to only be identified as Cindy, told ABC7 News, “My first reaction was like, Yes! Yay.’ And then you come down from that and you go, ‘She’s not coming home.’”

Laurie Houts was only 25 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found in her vehicle by a passerby on Sep. 5, 1992. It was parked in the 1300 block of Crittenden Lane in Mountain View, California. The rope that was apparently used to kill her was still around her neck. In addition to other signs of a struggle, her footprints were found on the interior of the windshield, showing how hard she tried to fight for her life. Her undisturbed purse was found nearby.

An investigation soon revealed Woodward as the prime suspect. He was known to be jealous of Houts, and he had an unrequited romantic attachment to her despite the fact that she was his roommate’s girlfriend. Houts’ boyfriend asked Woodward if he killed her while police listened to the conversation, and Woodward responded by asking what investigators knew. At the time, Woodward’s fingerprints were found outside the car, but police couldn’t show evidence to prove had been inside the car at the time.

Police detectives started to re-examine the Houts case in late 2020. They re-examined and re-submitted evidence from the investigation to the Santa Clara County Crime Lab for renewed analysis, reported MSN. Evidence soon came back that matched Woodward’s DNA, and over 80 latent fingerprints taken back in 1992 were re-examined, which revealed that even more fingerprints belonging to Woodward were found at the scene of the murder.

If Woodward is convicted, he’ll likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

After the recent arrest of Woodward, Deputy District Attorney Rob Baker of the Santa Clara County DA's Office told PEOPLE, "I'm thrilled that we have a second chance to seek justice for Laurie after nearly 30 years. It's so rare that new evidence is discovered decades after a case is dismissed, giving us another shot at holding Mr. Woodward accountable.

“The arrest of Mr. Woodward is a testament to advances in forensic science. Without those advances, we never would have been able to refile this murder case,” he stated.

"Laurie Anne Houts was a beloved family member and friend to many. Although she was only five feet tall, she had a huge heart and her humor and spunk were endearing to all," the Houts family said in a statement that was issued through the Mountain Valley Police Department.

"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."

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