By the Daily Post staff
A tech company CEO has been arrested at John F. Kennedy airport in New York after arriving from Amsterdam, and charged with the strangulation murder of his roommate’s girlfriend in Mountain View 30 years ago.
John Kevin Woodward, 58, president and CEO of Readytech, an online training company, will be arraigned when he returns to Santa Clara County in the company of Mountain View detectives. He faces life in prison, if convicted.
Woodward was tried twice unsuccessfully in the md 1990s for the murder of Laurie Houts, a 25-year-old computer engineer. Both trials resulted in hung juries. After the second trial, a judge dismissed the case due to a insufficient evidence. Woodward then moved to the Netherlands. He is currently being held without bail in New York while he awaits extradition to California.
“I want Ms. Houts family and friends to know that we never gave up on her,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen. “Neither time nor distance will stop us from finding out the truth and seeking justice.”
On Sept. 5, 1992, a passerby found Houts dead in her vehicle in the 1300 block of Crittenden Lane in Mountain View, near a garbage dump about a mile from her work. The rope used to kill her was still around her neck. Her footprints were on the windshield interior, a sign of her struggle with Woodward. Her unrifled pocketbook was nearby.
An investigation quickly determined that Woodward was a prime suspect. Prosecutors argued that Woodward, who is gay, was jealous of Houts’ relationship with Woodward’s roommate. The two roommates didn’t have a romantic relationship, however.
Woodward had no alibi. When her boyfriend asked Woodward if he killed her, as police listened, he asked what the investigators knew. Although Woodward’s fingerprints were located on the outside of Houts’ car, investigators in 1992 were never able to show he was inside the vehicle.
In 2021, the Santa Clara County Crime Lab and Mountain View Police Department detectives used DNA to link Woodward to the rope found around Houts’ neck.
The Houts family released the following statement:
“Laurie Anne Houts was a beloved family member and friend to many. Although she was only 5-feet tall, she had a huge heart and her humor and spunk were endearing to all. The way Laurie lived and treated people was a stunning example of what was right in the world. She was a gem to so many, but her bright life was taken from us at the age of 25. 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.”
District Attorney Rosen praised the cooperation and assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. In less than 24 hours, Dutch authorities in coordination with DOJ, obtained a warrant for the search of Woodward’s home and business in the Netherlands and seized multiple computers and USB drives.