News Details

Mountain View detectives solve 30-year-old cold case homicide

Laurie Houts was vibrant. Her brown eyes radiate from pictures as she beams into the camera. She was a beloved daughter, sister and friend.

Laurie was an avid athlete and ahead of her time as a woman in the STEM field. Laurie was someone we all aspire our daughters to be like – kind, loyal and fun.

But, at just 25 years old, Laurie’s life was tragically cut short when she was murdered after she left work at Adobe Systems on Charleston Road. Her body was discovered in her car less than two miles from her work. But today, we are proud to announce that there has been an arrest in connection with her death, a case that had remained open for nearly 30 years.

Thanks to updates in DNA technology, the man suspected of murdering Laurie Houts as she left work on September 5, 1992 is now in custody. John Kevin Woodward, 58, who currently resides in the Netherlands but is an American citizen, was taken into custody after he landed at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on Saturday, July 9, 2022.

“This case is the culmination of incredible determination by our detectives over the decades and with phenomenal teamwork with our agency partners here in Santa Clara County and in New York,” said Chief Chris Hsiung. “I am honored that our agency finally gets to give hope to Laurie’s family that they can see a successful prosecution carried out. It bears repeating – we do not give up on justice for victims, no matter what.”

Beginning in late 2020, detectives began to re-examine Laurie’s case, and had items from the investigation re-submitted to the Santa Clara County Crime Lab for analysis. During that time, DNA samples collected from evidence at the scene came back matching Woodward’s DNA. Over 80 latent fingerprints that were also collected at the time of Laurie’s death were re-examined by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Identification Unit, which resulted in even more fingerprints matching Woodward.

This new information, coupled with evidence that pointed to Woodward as the primary suspect gathered during the original investigation, led the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office to issue a warrant for Woodward’s arrest for murder.

Initially, Woodward was arrested in 1992 in connection with Laurie’s death. The first trial held resulted in a hung jury. A second trial was roughly a year later, which also resulted in a hung jury. In the second trial, the trial judge noted that new evidence would need to be brought forward to re-try Woodward for the crime. 

Since those two trials, Woodward had relocated to the Netherlands, where he currently resides. As mentioned, Woodward was detained after entering the United States on Saturday and is being held in New York until he can be extradited back to California.

The Houts family released the following statement:

“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.”

The Mountain View Police Department wants to extend our sincere thanks to the Santa Clara County District Attorney investigators, the Santa Clara County Crime Lab, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Identification Unit, the Port Authority Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the FBI, Interpol, the California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations and the US Postal inspection Service who made this possible.

To keep the memory of Laurie alive, Laurie’s family would like to make the community aware the Laurie Houts Memorial Girls Athletics Scholarship, whose donations go to graduating female seniors who have been involved in sports all four years and plan to get a degree within a STEM discipline.

To learn more and to donate, visit:

Laurie’s family is available for media interviews from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm on Monday, July 11.

For media inquiries, and to schedule interviews with Laurie’s family, contact PIO Katie Nelson at