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!


Your Library Staff at Home- Arts and Culture Online

This week we are providing links to resources might find helpful in your hunt when looking up the history of your home. These resources were assembled for a program that the library partnered in Virtual 4th Annual Living in the Digital World Senior Expo.

Cleveland Memory Project- Rocky River

In partnership with the Cleveland Memory Project, a digital history collection at Cleveland State University, we are digitizing our photograph collection. We are also adding photographs of Rocky River from the Cleveland Press Collection at CSU.–

Cleveland State Research Guides

This is the Library Guide for information on the history of greater Cleveland and NE Ohio.  Notice the tabs across the top of this page, detailing specific types of resources and other information topics designed to help you. Note too that many of these pages give you room to comment and rate this information for usefulness.

Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer- Real Property

The Real Property department maintains a complete historical record of all property transactions, maintains records of property ownership, valuation, and taxation, and collects special assessments for public improvements. In addition, the Real Property department prepares the first and second half property tax duplicate, computes tax refunds, gives credits based on decisions by the Board of Revision, Board of Tax Appeals, the Appraisal department and the

Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer- The Cuyahoga Recording Division

This site is provided to allow the citizens of Cuyahoga County, and the world, access to information housed at our office. Here you will find data on all the documents filed at the Recorder’s office from 1810 until present day.

Sanborn Fire Maps

Fire insurance maps of Ohio from 1867 to 1970 for history and genealogy research. Library Card Required.

Your Library Staff at Home- Arts and Culture Online

Today we are highlighting an institution with collections and archives about state history. There are some great tools and resources below for educators and parents as well as researchers and genealogists.

Ohio History Connection

The Ohio History Collection, formally the Ohio Historical Society, is a non-profit that has been around since 1885. They provide Ohio history services, house the state archive, and manage over 50 historical sites all across Ohio.

Their Learn at Home page from the museum’s education department breaks down their lessons into different levels of learning:




Adult Learners

Each section has different topics for you to choose from along with recommend grade level. When you select a topic you will see links to lesson plans, activities/prompts, and videos. Have questions about one of the topics or resources? During this closure you are able to Ask the Museum Educator.

Their Youtube Channel offers videos on a wide range of topics. You will find videos of historical reenactors, exhibition highlights, behind the scene looks, and curators using the collection to discuss different moments in the state’s history.

Their Digital Resource page features all their digital collections and can be a great place to start if you are beginning your search into what they have available. Here you will finds links to:

If you are looking for historical images or interactive Digital Collections page offers even more resources.