Tech CEO arrested in 1992 Mountain View cold case

Advances in forensic science technology led to the arrest last weekend of a Bay Area executive suspected of strangling a woman to death 30 years ago in Mountain View, authorities said.

John Kevin Woodward, 58, president and chief executive officer of ReadyTech, was taken into custody Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he was arriving from Amsterdam, according to the Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney.

On Monday, he waived extradition and is expected to be escorted to the Bay Area by Mountain View detectives by the end of the month, a district attorney spokesperson said.

Woodward, suspected in the 1992 death of 25-year-old Laurie Houts, will be arraigned when he arrives, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a news release. Family and friends gathered at the Mountain View Police Dept. Monday after hearing of the arrest

"It doesn’t really matter what happens because Laurie is not coming back. We don’t get to win and get our sister back. We get to win and maybe get some justice or some closure," said Cindy, Houts' younger sister.  

Houts, a computer engineer, was found dead on Sept. 5, 1992, in her car on Crittenden Lane in Mountain View, near a garbage dump about a mile from her work, authorities said.

"I was very proud of her and she was stood on her own. Whether it was in the classroom, or us playing co-ed softball, co-ed basketball in college. We miss that," said her best friend, Marilyn. 

The rope used to kill her was still around her neck, and authorities said her footprints were on the windshield interior, showing she struggled with her attacker.


Mountain View police have made an arrest in the connection with the death of Laurie Houts, who was found strangled to death 30 years ago.

Woodward's fingerprints were found on the outside of Houts' car, but investigators in 1992 were never able to show he was inside the vehicle.

Last year, the Santa Clara County Crime Lab and Mountain View Police Department detectives used new developments in forensic science technology to link Woodward to the rope found around Houts' neck, the district attorney said.

Authorities allege Woodward was openly jealous of Houts and had "an unrequited romantic attachment" to her boyfriend, who was his roommate.

It's not the first time Woodward has faced charges in Houts' death. The district attorney said Woodward was tried twice unsuccessfully in the late 1990s in the case, but it was dismissed 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, authorities said.

Woodward is currently being held without bail in New York while awaiting extradition to California.