MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KRON) — The CEO of a Mountain View company has been charged with the 1992 strangulation murder of Laurie Houts. He could face life in prison if convicted, according to the County of Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office (DA’s Office).
On Saturday police arrested John Kevin Woodward, 58, the President and CEO of Readytech, at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City (NYC) when he arrived from Amsterdam. He was then charged with the murder of Laurie Houts—his roommate’s girlfriend—in Mountain View 30 years ago.
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In September of 1992 a passerby noticed Houts dead in her vehicle on Crittenden Lane in Mountain View. The rope that had been used to kill her was still around her neck. Footprints were visible on the windshield interior, a sign that she struggled for her life.
Investigations quickly steered law enforcement towards Woodward as a prime suspect–he was reportedly jealous of Houts because he developed an “unrequited romantic attachment” to her boyfriend, Woodward’s roommate. Woodward reportedly had no alibi.
Woodward was tried twice for the murder throughout the late 1990’s. The second case was dismissed by a judge citing insufficient evidence after a jury could not reach a verdict. Woodward then moved to the Netherlands after the case was dismissed.
In 2021 newly developed forensic technology was able to tie Woodward to the scene via the rope that was used to strangle Houts. The DA’s office filed a case in January of this year and a nation-wide warrant was activated for his arrest.
Rob Baker, the Deputy District Attorney with the Cold Case Unit, tells KRON4 that the process of arresting Woodward was particularly complicated because he lives in the Netherlands. Homeland Security worked with the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security to learn when Woodward would be returning to the United States. “Prior to COVID, he [Woodward] regularly returned to the Bay Area at least once a year, typically in the summer,” Baker said.
Last Wednesday Homeland Security informed the DA’s Office and the Mountain View Police Department that Woodward would be arriving at JFK in NYC on Saturday. By Friday investigators from the DA’s office and MVPD were traveling to NYC to assist with the arrest. Woodward was arrested by Homeland Security when he got off the plane, and he is currently in custody in NYC.
Baker tells KRON4 that Woodward waived extradition in a NYC courtroom on Monday afternoon. MVPD will escort Woodward back to the Bay Area and book him into Santa Clara County Jail by July 29. After he has been booked into SCC, he will face arraignment on the complaint charging him with the murder of Houts.