William Earl Talbot II has pleaded not guilty to the double-murder of a young Canadian couple that has been under investigation for three decades.

The 55-year-old Seatac man has now been charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, which makes him eligible for the death penalty, according to charging documents. He was arraigned in Snohomish County Superior Court on Tuesday, after Skagit County County transferred its one murder case.

Talbot is accused of murdering 21-year-old Jay Cook and his girlfriend, Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, while they were visiting Seattle from Saanich, British Columbia. They were going to retrieve a part from Gensco Heating the next day, and then return home. They were last seen purchasing ferry ticket to Seattle in Bremerton on the night of Nov. 18, 1987.

Their families filed reports they were missing and started searching the next day.

Cook's body was found within a week, less than a mile from old Washington State Reformatory’s Honor Farm, south of Monroe.

A man looking for aluminum cans in a wooded area off Parson’s Creek Road, between Old Highway 99 and Prairie Road in Skagit County, found Van Cuylenborg’s body two days earlier, according to charging documents discovered. She had been bound with zip ties, raped and shot in the head. Cook had been bound, beaten and strangled.

“From all information these acts of violence were as random as they were savage,” according to charging documents.

Following Talbot’s arrest on May 17, the Seatac man was transported to Skagit County to face one count of aggravated first-degree murder based on evidence allegedly connecting him to Van Cuylenborg’s death. Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Shari Ireton said detectives were later able to conduct more interviews and gather enough evidence for Talbot to face the same charge for Cook’s murder. Snohomish County will now handle prosecuting Talbot for both murders.

Blood was allegedly found on a comforter in the van, which was located near a Greyhound bus station in Bellingham. Van Cuylenborg's wallet, identification, a pair of surgical gloves and box of ammunition matching a shell casing found near her body were discovered at a tavern next door.

Talbot's arrest came a month after the Snohomish and Skagit county sheriff's offices announced they had new evidence that might help bring closure to the case. The agencies released composite sketches of what the suspect could have looked like at ages 25, 45 and 65. Virginia-based Parabon NonoLabs created them using DNA phenotyping.

The resulting profile was of a man of Northern European descent, according to charging documents. He was expected to have fair skin, green or hazel eyes, freckles, and hair that was red-blonde with a chance he would be balding.

Hundreds of tips were reported afterward, and Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary thanked the callers for their assistance following Talbot’s arrest, though other information ultimately led them to Talbot.

Genetic genealogy was used to check public databases for relatives of the suspect, according to charging documents. The new technique could potentially find “kinship of an unknown individual through six degrees of relatedness.” Investigators were able to find relatives of Talbot's parents, and determined he was their only son; they also had three daughters. 

Talbot had been living with his parents in Woodinville at the time the Canadian couple disappeared, according to charging documents. Their address was seven miles from where Cook was found. “One would only need to take two roads and make two turns” to get to the site, according to the documents.

A man who was friends with the suspect during that time reportedly saw Cook's family van parked at Talbot's parents' house in late fall of 1987. Talbot also allegedly took the man to the area where Cook's body was found, years before the murder. The two shared a mutual interest in photography.

The witness still had a photograph of the old reformatory Talbot allegedly took on their visit and gave him once it was developed, according to charging documents. He gave it to police.

Investigators are still searching for the body of Van Cuylenborg’s 35mm Minolta camera. The lens was eventually traced to a Portland pawnshop in 1990. The sheriff said investigators have also been trying to find out more information about the blue blanket found wrapped around Cook. It didn’t belong to him, and family members didn’t recognize it.

Another man law enforcement spoke with reported he helped Talbot land a job as a delivery driver the same year as the murders, according to charging documents. Part of the route the suspect was assigned would have allegedly allowed him to become familiar with the Seattle area where the couple planned to pick up the furnace parts.

Talbot has no previous felony history, according to charging documents. None of his DNA was found on the FBI's database, so law enforcement reportedly began surveillance of him on his way to and from work, which is where he was arrested.

“Yesterday the killer had his last sleep in his own bed,” said Cook’s sister Laura Baanstra after Talbot's arrest in May. “His last coffee break. His last day of freedom.”

A cup that fell out of his truck reportedly provided a sample that was connected with evidence found along with Van Cuylenborg and the van, according to charging documents. Talbot declined to speak to detectives upon his arrest.

“We don’t have any idea what the motive was here,” said Snohomish County Sheriff’s Detective Jim Scharf at the time of Talbot’s arrest. “We’re not even sure how the individual met up with the victims.”

Talbot is still in custody, according to the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The bail order was not available as of Tuesday afternoon. A request was made in the charging documents that he not be granted bail.

“Given the potential ramifications for defendant flight is obviously a risk,” according to charging documents.