After two mistrials, tech CEO John Woodward has been charged with the murder of Laurie Houts for the third time.
In September 1992, Laurie Houts, a 25-year-old computer engineer, was found strangled in her car.
The car was located near her workplace at Abode Systems, and a metre-long rope was still around her chin, mouth, and neck.
Prosecutors believed that Houts had known her victim and willingly let them in the vehicle.
Her footprints were found on the interior of the windshield, showing signs of a struggle.
The police investigation found Woodward was “openly jealous” of Houts’ relationship with his roommate, with whom Woodward had “developed an unrequited romantic attachment,” prosecutors said.
“The motive, as much as we understand, is a love triangle between the suspect and his male roommate who was dating the victim at the time,” Seargent David Fisher said.
“We believe the suspect was romantically interested in the roommate.”
Additionally, Woodward had no alibi. When the boyfriend asked Woodward if he killed Laurie, he asked what the investigators knew.
His fingerprints were found outside Houts’ vehicle, but investigators could not prove that he was inside the vehicle.
In the 1990s, Woodward was tried twice in connection with Houts’ death, but both trials ended in hung juries.
A judge dismissed the case after the second mistrial, telling prosecutors it could be refiled only if new evidence was obtained.
‘Laurie Houts was a beloved family member and friend to many’
In 2021, detectives linked Woodward to the rope found around Houts’ neck using new developments in forensic science technology.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen thanked the Mountain View Police Department, the DA Cold Case Unit, and the DA Crime Lab criminalists whose work led to the charge.
“I want Ms. Houts’ family and friends to know that we never gave up on her,” he said.
“Neither time nor distance will stop us from finding out the truth and seeking justice.”
After Woodward’s arrest on Monday, Laurie Houts’ family released a statement.
“Laurie Anne Houts was a beloved family member and friend to many… She was a gem to so many, but her bright life was taken from us at the age of 25,” it read.
“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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