Bay Area CEO Charged with 1992 Mountain View Strangulation Murder

For release on July 11, 2022

CONTACT:

Rob Baker
Deputy District Attorney
Cold Case Unit

(408) 792-2873
[email protected]

 

Bay Area CEO Charged with 1992 Mountain View Strangulation Murder

A Bay Area tech company CEO was arrested last Saturday at JFK 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, the President and CEO of Readytech, an online training company, will be arraigned when he gets back 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 late 1990’s for the murder of Laurie Houts, a 25-year-old computer engineer. The case was dismissed by a judge for insufficient evidence after a jury could not reach a verdict following the second trial. Woodward moved to the Netherlands after the case was dismissed. He is currently being held without bail in New York while he awaits extradition to California.

DA 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. Neither time nor distance will stop us from finding out the truth and seeking justice.”  

On September 5, 1992, a passerby found Ms. 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. He was openly jealous of Ms. Houts, having developed an unrequited romantic attachment to his roommate, her boyfriend. He had no alibi. When the 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 linked Woodward to the rope found around Ms. Houts’ neck using new developments in forensic science technology.

DA Rosen also 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.   

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