Gay tech CEO charged with murdering roomate’s girlfriend 30 years after she was killed

John Kevin Woodward has been charged, for a third time, with the senseless murder of his former roommate’s girlfriend nearly 30 years ago.

Woodward, the president and CEO of ReadyTech, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after arriving from Amsterdam on Saturday (9 July) and charged with the murder of Laurie Houts.

Houts, a 25-year-old computer engineer, was found strangled in her car in Mountain View, California in 1992.

She died by strangulation and the rope used to kill her was left at the crime scene. Police suspect there was a struggle, as Houts’ footprints were found on the interior windshield of the car.

Woodward’s fingerprints were found outside the car but there were none inside the vehicle.

Woodward was the main suspect from the start. He was openly jealous of Houts, having developed an unrequited romantic attachment to his roommate, her boyfriend, prosecutors say. He also had no alibi.

Laurie Houts was killed because Woodward was jealous of her relationship. (Credit: Mountain View Police)

When the boyfriend confronted Woodward following Houts’ murder, police taped the conversation hoping for an admission, but Woodward simply asked what the police knew and gave nothing away.

The CEO was tried twice in the late 1990s but the cases were dismissed by prosecution for “insufficient evidence”. Woodward moved to the Netherlands following the case.

There was a breakthrough in the case when Santa Clara County crime lab and the Mountain View Police Department used new forensic developments and identified Woodward’s DNA on the rope linking him to Houts murder.

Sergeant David Fisher with MVPD’s crimes against persons unit, responsible for solving cold cases, told ABC 7 News: “The biggest hurdle from those cases was being able to find new evidence. Since then, these advancements have really given the district attorney the ability to file charges here.

“For this case specifically, they were able to go back to a much earlier sample that was taken in 2005 from the murder weapon – which in this case was a rope – and they were able to use new technology to locate new DNA evidence on that rope, from that sample.”

Woodward will face life in prison if he is convicted. He is currently being held without bail in New York while he awaits extradition.

ReadyTech has also issued a statement expressing shock and empathy for Houts’ family.

“We have the utmost empathy for the families involved,” it said. “ReadyTech will draw upon the strength of our long-time leadership team to support our employees, our customers and our business during this time.”

Houts’ family were glad for the prospect of justice but expressed that even if they do win the case, Houts was still unjustifiably murdered.

Her sister, who only went by Cindy, told ABC 7 News: “It’s not like, if we win we get her back. She’s not coming back.”

Houts family also released a statement via CBS and said: “Laurie Anne Houts was a beloved family member and friend to many.  Although she was only 5′ 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.”

After Houts’ murder, her family started a foundation called the Laurie Houts Memorial Girls Athletics Scholarship which supports graduating female seniors at Gunderson High School, who have been involved in sports and plan to get a degree within a STEM discipline.