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Tech company CEO arrested and charged with murder in 1992 killing of California woman, DA says

John Kevin Woodward, 58, the CEO of online training company ReadyTech, was taken into custody at New York’s JFK airport on Saturday after he arrived from Amsterdam, a news release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
He was charged with strangling Laurie Houts, his roommate’s girlfriend, said the prosecutor’s office. Officials said DNA on a rope led them to Woodward.

Woodward was tried twice in the case in the 1990s, but the prosecution was dismissed “for insufficient evidence,” the DA’s office said. Woodward then moved to the Netherlands.

Houts’ body was found, with a rope around her neck, in her car in September 1992, about a mile from her workplace in Mountain View, California. The 25-year-old software engineer’s footprints were found on the inside of her windshield, a sign of struggle, said the DA’s office.

Investigators said Woodward had developed feelings for his roommate, Houts’ boyfriend, and was jealous of their relationship.

Last year, the Santa Clara County crime lab and the Mountain View Police Department used new developments in forensic science to link Woodward to the rope around Houts’ neck, investigators said.
“The biggest hurdle … was being able to find new evidence,” Mountain View police Sgt. David Fisher told CNN affiliate KGO. “Since then, these advancements have really given the district attorney the ability to file charges here.”

“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,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

“My first reaction was ‘Yes!’ ‘Yay!’ And then you come down from that, you go, ‘She’s not coming home,'” Houts’ sister Cindy told KGO.

Woodward is being held without bail in New York while he awaits extradition. He is expected to be arraigned once he returns to California. If convicted, he faces life in prison, according to the DA’s office.

It is not clear whether Woodward has a lawyer.

ReadyTech called Woodward’s arrest a “jolt to all of us,” in a statement issued Tuesday.

“We have the utmost empathy for the families involved,” it said. “ReadyTech will draw upon the strength of our long-time leadership team to support our employees, our customers and our business during this time.”

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