The Forever Witness: How Genetic Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder by Edward Humes

On November 19, 1987 Jay Cook, 20, and his girlfriend Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, set off from Saanich, British Columbia for an overnight trip to Seattle, Washington. The purpose of the trip was to pick up a part for Jay’s father, but Tanya was along for the adventure. They never made it home. The couple was reported missing on November 20th. Tanya’s body was found on November 24. Two days later and 60 miles away authorities recovered Jay’s body. Detective’s suspected they were dealing with the work of a serial killer, but frustratingly, they just could not make a case. With no leads, the case went cold, while the biological evidence collected from the scenes sat in a long-term storage deep freeze just waiting for advancements in DNA technology.

Meanwhile, genealogist CeCe Moore was pioneering the use of genetic genealogy to solve cold cases. In 2018 she joined Parabon Nanolabs as head of their genetic genealogy unit. Her first case was that of Tanya and Jay. When Detective Jim Scharf sent biological evidence to Parabon, he had no idea he and Moore were about to make history. In May, 2018 William Earl Talbott II was arrest, thanks to genetic genealogy research. In 2021, he because the first person to be convicted based on DNA evidence that was run through genealogy databases.

This was a meticulously researched and well told story that not only treats the victims and their families with respect and care, but also deftly navigates the controversial aspects of genetic genealogy and privacy rights. A must read for true crime fans.

Request a copy of The Forever Witness here or find digital copies here. Thanks to for an advanced reader copy.

Happy Reading!