Is murder in your DNA? – The Fifth Estate season premiere
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Is murder in your DNA? – The Fifth Estate season premiere

♪ ♪ I realize I’m looking at the
name of most likely the murderer and I’m the only person
in the world who knows it. Detective:She’d been
shot in the head.
He took Jay out and strangled
him and killed him
as quietly as he could. The investigators showed up on
my doorstep and told me that they were investigating a family
member of mine for murder. [♪♪] [Projector whirring] [woman] That case was one that
was very personal to me. I’ve grown up visiting both
Seattle and Vancouver, and Tanya was exactly my
age, born in 1969. It could have easily been
one of my loved ones that suffered this fate. Every time I hear from one of
the family members about what this has meant for them I feel
very strongly that this is for the greater good. So when I saw this
I was like, “Whoa.” [Bob] CeCe Moore is what’s
called a genetic genealogist. Her job, bring people together
using DNA to reveal branches of their family tree they
don’t know they have. In 2018, she got the
case of a lifetime. DNA from a three decades-old
murder giving two Canadian families a shot at
justice no one imagined. I recall that morning very well. Because, um… Jay and I were
really close. We have a tradition in the
family of waving goodbye until you’re right out of sight and
the way the street went, like that. So, you had to wave
for quite a while. And, and he did and he
had his– you know, honking, and hand out
the window. [Bob] On that morning in 1987,
20-year-old Jay Cook and his 18-year-old girlfriend,
Tanya van Cuylenborg, set off from Victoria, BC,
for what was supposed to be an overnight trip to
Seattle, Washington. [man on intercom] And we
hope you enjoyed your sailing on the Koho today. [Ferry horn blowing] [Bob] According to their ferry
ticket, Jay and Tanya got to the dock in downtown
Seattle around midnight. They were going to
sleep in the van, then return home the next day. But by the following evening
they still hadn’t arrived back home and they hadn’t called. And, uh, we were kinda giddy,
I think, as I remember it now, thinking, “Wow, maybe they
eloped or something like that.” He was supposed to be home. And he just didn’t show
up and now it’s like six, seven o’clock, I mean,
he’s not home. Most people, of course, were
saying, “You’ve got an 18 and 20 “year old and they’re a few
hours late, are you kidding me?” But my parents were– no,
this is– something’s wrong. He stuffed a cigarette pack and
a tissue down his throat to keep him from making any noise. [Bob] Detective Jim Scharf has
investigated the case for the past decade-and-a-half. I believe that he took Jay out
and strangled him and killed him as quietly as he could so that
he could come back and tell Tanya, “Hey, I let Jay go, if
you do everything I tell you to do, I won’t hurt you,
and I’ll let you go.” [Bob] Six days after the
two disappeared police located Tanya’s wallet
and keys behind a tavern in Bellingham, Washington. The Cooks’ family van was found
at this intersection nearby. Tanya’s body was recovered
from a culvert outside town. She had rolled down the side of
the road on Parsons Creek Road. She’d been shot in the head. Her bra had been pushed up, even
though she still had her shirt and coat on and she was
nude from the waist down. [Bob] Tanya had also been raped. Two days later Jay’s
body was discovered, under this rural bridge. [Bob] You called it the
darkest of days. Yeah, well it doesn’t get much
worse than that, yeah. I mean, having to
identify a family member like that is…terrible. So they knew how
Jay and Tanya had died, but there was no forensic
evidence linking Jay’s death to anyone else. And no match between the DNA
found on Tanya’s body and any law enforcement database. [♪♪] [man] It’s kind of like, I wish
we could just restart the investigation from square one. I mean, there were a lot of tips
that had come in years earlier. We probably had 230
names in the file. [Bob] Names, but as the
years passed, no suspects. The only hard evidence,
the DNA found on Tanya’s body, and a palm print. [John] And then, this is
her and I, just relaxing outside on the patio,
I think at the family home. I never gave up hope. Um, you know, I found that I had
to, uh, come to terms with, or reconcile myself to the
fact that the perpetrator might never be held accountable,
in order to move forward with my life but I never
gave up hope that the– someone would be
held accountable. When you keep in contact with a
family for months or years you get close with the families. I think I’ve especially
bonded with these two families. The thing that makes me feel
bad is that I wish I never would have met them. If Jay and Tanya
could be alive today, that would be the most wonderful
thing in the world but, uh… ..they’re not here. It started with, my dad called
me to say that they were gonna have a news
conference in Everett. They’d like us to come down and
speak and that was to introduce the pictures that
we got from Parabon. [Bob] In 2018, detective Scharf
sent the DNA found on Tanya to Parabon Labs, a U.S. company
specializing in DNA technology. [man] The program sifts through
billions of pieces of genetic information and slowly begins
to build a suspect’s appearance. [Bob] The technique, called
phenotype, used DNA to predict how Tanya’s killer
might look, decades later. [Jim] They were able to use this
information to even make a shape of a face to make a
composite of what the person could look similar to. [Bob] Am I correct
that you didn’t want to look at the image? [Laura] Yeah, I wasn’t– I was
worried that I’d get too upset. ‘Cause I honestly thought
I’d be looking at the killer. And we got like another 120 or
30 tips coming in of people that looked similar to that but none
of them had any connection to our case. So we were making a lot
more work for ourselves there. [Bob] For the
families, disappointment. But the breakthrough they’d
desperately been hoping for was about to arrive, and from
a most unexpected place. The investigators showed up on
my doorstep and told me that they were investigating a family
member of mine for murder. I realize I’m looking at the
name of most likely the murderer and I’m the only person
in the world who knows it, except that person. [♪♪] [♪♪] [reporter] Tonight, a four
decade old search for one of history’s most infamous serial
killers may be over. [Bob] It was a crime-fighting
breakthrough heralded by every media outlet in North America. The Golden State Killer
terrorized California with more than 50 rapes and 13
murders over decades. Now a suspect was apprehended
thanks only to his DNA, and his family tree. [man] There was a special on TV,
where they were covering the Golden State Killer, and right
in the middle of the episode, we find out that they’re doing
exactly what they just did in the Golden State case to–
to ours. [Jim] I was interested in
solving some criminal cases where we had DNA evidence, being able to use this same
type of technology to solve Jay and Tanya’s case,
and several other cases. [Bob] In recent years, tens of
millions have enrolled in what’s known as ancestry genealogy. Submitting their DNA
to family tree websites, searching for unknown relatives. I was just a hobbyist,
like everyone, else when law enforcement would
reach out and say, “Can you help us
stop a serial killer?” Of course I’d wanna do that. [Gary] You know, you
try really hard to not get your hopes up too much. [woman] Because they’ve been
dashed so many times. Because they’ve been
dashed so many times. It’s been 30 years of, you know,
hearing it come back and come back and come back
and it was always, you know, that’s great, I’m
glad they’re working on it, but chances are nothing’s
gonna happen. So… [Bob] But something
was going to happen. Remember the DNA
company Parabon Labs? Working with genetic
genealogist CeCe Moore, they ran the DNA found on
Tanya’s body through the same ancestry database
used to identify the Golden State Killer. Just like that, two
matches popped up, one of them a second cousin. Getting a second cousin match
on a case was a bit like getting struck by lightning. [woman] The investigators showed
up on my doorstep and told me that they were investigating
a family member of mine for murder. [Bob] Chelsea Rustad was the
second cousin who would lead CeCe Moore to the
murder suspect. I found her birthdate, so I put
that in here and then I said she shared 3.35% of her DNA
with our unknown suspect. Now I have to
identify her parents. Who are her grandparents? Well, I recognized Talbott
immediately from the other match’s family tree. So right away I knew– aha,
this marriage combines the two different families
that I’m researching. So then we follow that forward,
we say okay Patricia Peters married a Talbott and
they had four kids. And we’ve got one male. I realize I’m looking at
the name of most likely the murderer, and I’m the only
person in the world who knows it except that person. [Bob] The name of that person
was William Earl Talbott the Second. And, I’m like, can I
really believe this? Hi Ken, Hi Chuck… I went up to the office and
started checking him out and the first thing that I found out
was that he had addresses in the Woodinville-Duvall area,
which was close to where Jay’s body was found. And when he shows up seven
miles from your crime scene, now you figure that you
got a pretty good lead. And, you work it. [Bob] Police immediately put
Talbott under surveillance. They followed him and he
was driving a semi-truck. He pulled up to a traffic light
on West Marginal Way, at Spokane Street, and opened
the door to the semi-truck, and stepped out onto
the running board and a paper cup fell out of the truck. And the detectives that were
following him watched the light change to green, he
slammed the door, drove away. They ran out and picked up
the cup and brought it to me. [Bob] So could this cardboard
coffee cup reveal the killer from 31 years before? They ended up bringing me a lab
report that said the person that drank from that cup yesterday
is the person that matches the profile that raped Tanya. So… [Bob] And as long as you’ve
done this kind of work, what are you thinking? Well, a rush of emotions
hit me and I teared up, and then I screamed. “We got him!” It’s hard to put into
words this feeling of relief, of joy, of great sorrow
that this arrest brings. So after he’d completed the
arrest and gotten Talbott into the back seat of the car, he
called me and he called John. And, yeah, he’s like,
“Hey, guess what?” He’s in the back seat of
the car and just– the hackles went up on my neck. I’m just, like, for one of
the few times in my life, I was completely speechless. I didn’t know what to say.
It was like…holy shit. [Bob] We spoke to William
Talbott’s family and friends. The picture that emerges is of a
disturbed boy who grew into an angry, violent man. Bill had a lot of anger issues,
and he kicked me a few times with boots on, and I ended up
calling the police. He’s been estranged from the
family for nearly twenty years. He beat me up,
broke my tailbone, I had to go to the hospital. [Bob] The trial here at the
Snohomish County Courthouse in Washington would be the first
time ever anywhere that a murder defendant was linked to the
crime using genetic genealogy. In other words, the use of DNA
to construct a family tree going back generations that
could identify a murderer. Today, at stake, not only who
killed two young Canadians, but potentially the future of
a crucial law enforcement investigative technique. [man] State of Washington
versus William Talbott. [Bob] Were you apprehensive
about how this unique, first, precedent-setting
use of genetic genealogy would be received, by a jury? [Jim] When you have the
possibility of him doing it is 1 in 180 quadrillion, you know
that he had sex with Tanya, and the person that had sex with
her had to be the killer. So, in my mind, it was a
no-brainer that we were gonna get a conviction on this guy. [Bob] Given the odds, the
defence didn’t dispute it was Talbott’s DNA found on Tanya. But they argued that the sex
between them could have been consensual and that she then
was killed by someone else. There isn’t any evidence,
for example, to connect Mister Talbott with Mister Cook
or to the murder weapon or to the murder weapon of Mister Cook
or to the murder weapon in– with Tanya van Cuylenborg. [Bob] But Talbott’s
lawyers never contested the admissibility of the family tree
evidence that led police to him in the first place. I don’t think any of us thought
it would come up not guilty. -No.
-No… -We all knew…it had to be.
-It had to be. You know, you’re not sure,
you’re not so sure that you feel happy, you’re…’re cautious. But I think we all felt there’s
just no other way this could come out,
other than guilty. [woman] All rise. [Bob] After a two week trial,
and two and a half days of deliberation,
there was a verdict. We the jury find the defendant
William Earl Talbott the Second, guilty of first degree murder,
as charged in Canada. [Talbott] I didn’t do it. [Bells ringing] [Bob] Without your DNA having
been uploaded to that site, we wouldn’t know the
name of William Talbott. That’s what the investigators
told me, they said that without both my DNA and my
genealogical research, they could not have conclusively
determined that it was him. [Bob] This is the first time
she’ll meet the family of the two people her cousin killed. How apprehensive were you that
they might not be welcoming? [Chelsea] Well, I guess I was
prepared for that possibility, because I’m still technically
one of his relatives. If people have feelings about
that they’re entitled to them and I don’t blame them. It should be whatever
makes them feel comfortable. [Overlapping conversation] [Bob] For decades all this
was unimaginable, but now from a random search comes
unexpected justice. [man] Court is now
in session. The Honourable
Linda C Krese presiding. [judge] Good morning,
please be seated. The jury has found
Mister Talbott guilty of both counts of first degree murder
with aggravating factors, the court’s only possible
sentence on each count is to impose a sentence of life
without possibility of release. [Bob] You got thrust into the
middle of the worst thing that has ever happened to
these two families. So, how does that feel for you? It was kind of
shocking at first. I’m happy that it was able to
contribute towards some type of resolution and
justice for the family. I was hit by the enormity
of what this meant. My work was going to lead to
someone spending the rest of their life in prison. So, I actually… ..started crying. [Leona] When I finally went to
his room to deal with his things some of us wanted a shirt, or a
sweater– you could wear them, you could put them to
your nose, and smell him. I still have that old sweater
in my dresser drawer. And for years, I still heard him
running up the back steps to the kitchen door. [Paper crinkling]
Thank you. [Bob] In the US, genetic
genealogy has so far been used to link at least 60 suspects to
unsolved murder and rape cases, some going back as
far as half a century. Here in Canada, there
have been no trials, no arrests and just
one police force, Vancouver’s, that has
acknowledged it’s using family tree forensics to
investigate a cold case file. ♪ ♪

78 thoughts on “Is murder in your DNA? – The Fifth Estate season premiere

  1. Yep! The greater good. The same privacy argument was spouted when they figured out all of our fingerprints were different. I simply love Parabon Nano Labs!

  2. I’m against DNA being in the public domain. They used it to shorten this case, but he would have been apprehended eventually.

  3. Interesting. As a true crime/crime fiction writer, I can think of intriguing ways to use Phenotype in my stories. Like a polygraph, I think it's only one tool investigators can use to solve a case.

  4. He should have been sentenced to death! Doesn't the bible saying eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth well if you look on that regards a life for a life you take a life you give up your life completely, that does not mean sitting behind bars for 50 years until you die or 60 years whatever wrong like you have left no he should have been sentenced to death and executed plain and simple I firmly believe in the death sentence and it should be in all 50 states!!!

  5. I think everybody could be a murderer. Ask anybody what would be a reason for you to kill anybody. Everybody would answer with propably the wurst thing for example: like if Somebody raped your kid tortured and then killed him that might be a reason. What i wanna say is most people would answer that question and that answers you question.

  6. Myself I would be more interested to see the perpetrator(s) put away so that they can't do it to anybody else. Facing them and knowing they might get out would be a lifelong albatross around my neck.

  7. As far as i know noone in my family has murdered anyone nor do i believe its a genetic thing ot comes from upbringing and poor impulse control

  8. Please from Ireland upload more cos we love y’alls channel but can’t watch on tv🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

  9. I have read about this case for years, and was so sad for this young couple. I am so grateful that they worked the DNA hard and got the correct offender in the end. I am from Seattle, WA, I doubt these are the only two he killed.

  10. So who is making the $$ off of this venture? Is selling this information to law enforcement? Are the family members of these killers being compensated for the use of their DNA for anything other than what they signed up for at So people, a lesson for you. Did you DONATE your DNA to because you wanted to find out about where you came from and what race course thru your veins? Well now, apparently you agreed to have them cell (pun) your data to third parties while you get nada. Remember nothing is free.

  11. this presentation is a bit misleading ~ the presence of DNA is not directly linked to the character of being a murderer ~ here, the DNA pointed to a match of DNA material found on one of the deceased murdered victims and the DNA material recovered and isolated out from trace saliva left in fibers of a paper coffee cup ~

  12. Law enforcement/Government could have used people’s DNA secretly without our knowledge, & we may have never found out. I’m sure they contemplated that. But ultimately decided against it, because court cases would have been overturned on appeal. If you haven’t committed any unlawful acts then you don’t really need to be worried. Your DNA might help solve a crime. Don’t kid yourself, if the powers that be want your DNA, they can get it from your garbage after you set it out on the curb. They can follow you & watch for you to throw a cup away, a straw, or a plastic spoon or fork, etc. See if you spit out gum or just spit on the ground. They can see if you smoke a cigarette & then collect the butt. They could even watch your house & then go inside while no one’s home & get your DNA. I know that’s illegal, but you would probably never know. I’m just saying “They have their ways” to get someone’s DNA if they really want it, wether you agree or not. Once a DNA match is established, then they know who committed the crime. Using DNA helps establish guilt or innocence of a suspect, eliminating “reasonable doubt”.
    It is much more reliable than eye witness testimony. Many people have been mistakenly convicted, when DNA is not tested or is unavailable for testing. They have to do what is best for the greater good of the society. Would you rather they leave serial killers, rapists, child molesters, & other criminals on the street to keep re-offending & to reek havoc on innocent people? I think not!!

  13. So very sorry for your long lost kids. I don't recall the case but some of the pics seems familiar. I assume they were on milk cartons or posters.

    I don't understand what sort of animal does these things, but I hope justice has been served.

  14. After learning of this remarkable technology, the ability to take DNA markers & create a life like images of children, adults…I wonder if they could take DNA from skeletal remains & do the same.

  15. Come on Canada get with the program……!
    I love fifth estate, i wish they had more on this topic, it was such a short episode!!
    Tragic story but finally a conclusion for the family!

  16. Gedmatch has made it where you have to opt in to make your dna available to law enforcement. If the government is corrupt enough to use this to frame someone, they are corrupt enough to get the evidence they want without having to jump through these hoops.

  17. IF you are interested in helping Law Enforcement (LE) find criminals upload your DNA to and "Opt-In" for LE. It's free and simple. Download from whatever commercial testing site you used. Save but don't open the file. Make a free account on GEDMatch. Then upload. You can also attach a small family tree to assist researchers. Even just back to your grandparents will make a world of difference.

  18. Justice for the families at long last! If any of my relatives done wrong, like murdering, raping, abusing, assaulting, done wrong, they're gone! And good riddance! Thank you for a great program, Fifth Estate! I need to be able to view full episodes on YouTube, though! I'm subscribed, but don't get full episodes.

  19. I know every defendant gets a defence lawyer that will defend him to his best ability but how do these lawyers live with the knowledge like in this case where its so obvious that he raped and killed? How do you deal with that when you sit at home with a glass of whine on the couch going trough the day in your mind?
    That day you stood there in court trying to get a man free which you know is rapist murderer. That you try to falsify the events that took place. Rationalise it to it being your job seems not to cut it for me. I could never do that. These people can. Is that not a broken moral compass in some way?

    Say you are good at your job and beat the odds and get someone to go free and he does it again. How can you deal with it? You are then an direct consequence to what happened next. Writing that off as to the principle that everyone is entitled to a fair trial seems so political correct.

  20. At the time that the conviction of Steven Truscott was overturned, it was reported that the slides from Lynne Harper's autopsy had been given to the archives in Stratford by Dr. Peniston, and that they would be examined for DNA. Later I was told by someone at the archives that the slides had been lost after leaving their possession and no DNA investigation had been made. I did not see any news reports about this. Does The Fifth Estate have any knowledge about this? If there were DNA available, forensic genealogy could be the last chance of justice for Lynne.

  21. A lot of old farts are going to retire in prison, hopefully deathrow in states other than California where they will retire with the potential of living a long life.

    I'm disgusted to hear lawyers assume women just give it up to random guys on the highway simply because he asked.

  22. As a Australian , we love Canadians / Canada . Love this show. Wow what a amazing thing DNA is. Very Emotional. Just burst into Tears when that Lovely Young USA Lady went to the sentencing. I Would Have NO PROBLEM letting my DNA be used to help in a crime ,Screw them . Rid another Murder , Rapist or Paedo of walking around.

  23. Bob McKewon and a lot of the other reporters on The Fifth Estate are my favorite. I hope you will have more shows then you have been uploading recently. Great episode. I have uploaded my raw data from 23anndme and Ancestry, to Ged Match in hopes of helping police or finding other long lost connections.

  24. From what his sisters say on how violent he is. I find it hard to blv there were only two victims. Check other cases he is for sure got more skeletons.

  25. Fantastic technology! This is just another tool in an investigation..I think this detective deserves all kudos here! He truly cared & never gave up. Talbott was only 24 y.o. when he committed this crime – most liked committed others before/after ..his own family didn't have anything good to say about him! Glad he's locked up for life…lets get the rest of them! (Great coverage..thank you 😀)

  26. I thought this would be a story about if your at risk to be a killer because of your DNA. I.E., alcoholism, diseases, etc.

  27. Murder is not hereditary it's a choice not genetics. Mental instability combined with aberrant socialization, emotional or physical abuse, drugs, alcohol will affect crime rates. Most beings would never murder no matter. Unfortunately, no way to foretell who will.

  28. I have been doing genealogical research for 20 years and am SO GLAD that this research can be used to put away some of the dregs of society.

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