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Suspect arrested in 30-year-old Mountain View cold case slaying of Laurie Houts

Laurie Anne Houts (February 6, 1967 – September 5, 1992) was an engineer at Adobe Systems.

Early life and education[]

Laurie Houts graduation

Houts at her graduation

Houts was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, the second of four daughters to Virginia Anne Furrer Houts. They moved to San Jose, California, where Virginia worked for an insurance company and Laurie attended Gunderson High School. Though she stood only 5 feet tall, Laurie became a member of the basketball team there and graduated in 1985.[1][2][3] She continued her studies in the computer field at the University of California, Davis.[4]


Laurie Houts joined Adobe Systems and worked as a computer engineer at their offices on Charleston Road in Mountain View, California.[5] She was noted for "succeeding in a career dominated by men."[4]


On September 5, 1992, Houts left Adobe's offices to attend a wedding later in the day with her boyfriend Brent Fulmer. A few hours later, her body was found by a jogger in her car on Crittenden Lane, less than 2 miles from her workplace. She had been strangled.[3][5] She was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.[6]


Police found a three-foot nylon rope that was tied in a square knot around Houts' mouth and neck. Her footprints were found on the dashboard, indicating a physical struggle. Her purse was found thrown over a fence in a possible attempt to stage the crime scene as a robbery. The police then monitored a call by Fulmer in which his roommate, Oracle engineer John Kevin Woodward, asked what evidence the police had against him and "did not deny" killing Houts. Woodward was arrested after his fingerprints were identified among over 80 latent prints found on the extrerior of her car. He denied the charges.[3][7][8][9]


John Kevin Woodward police mugshot

Police mugshot of John Kevin Woodward

In 1995 and 1996, Woodward was prosecuted for the murder of Houts, but both court cases resulted in a hung jury. Defense attorney Tom Nolan accused the prosecutors of homophobia for alleging that Woodward, who is gay, was openly jealous of Houts' relationship with Fulmer, who was Woodward's roommate at the time of her death. The defense also argued that Woodward's fingerprints were left on Houts' car while it had been parked at the apartment complex occupied by Fulmer and Woodward.[4][7] The trial judge noted that new evidence would be required to re-try the case. Woodward then relocated out of the country to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.[10] Laurie Houts' mother Virginia retired in 1998 and passed away on November 23, 2002, before the case could be resolved.[2] Virginia was buried next to her daughter Laurie in Colma.[6]

The case was reopened in January 2020 as advancements in DNA technology allowed the Santa Clara County Crime Lab to re-examine the evidence. In July 2022, Woodward, now the CEO of ReadyTech, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after new evidence, including DNA and microscopic fibers, were found linking him to the rope that was used to strangle Houts.[5][10] Her purse could not be examined for DNA evidence as it had been contaminated by fingerprint dusting.[9] Fulmer was excluded as a suspect as his DNA was not found on the rope. Woodward faces life in prison if convicted of the charges.[4] The U.S Department of Justice and the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security were credited with coordinating their efforts in the appprehension of Woodward.[11]

On August 31, 2022, Santa Clara County Judge Hector E. Ramon ruled that Woodward could be released to home detention at an address that he co-owned with his brother in Modesto, California, over the objections of Deputy District Attorney Barbara Cathcart and Houts' family. Woodward would be required wear a GPS monitor while he continues to be employed by ReadyTech and cannot apply for a new passport.[12] On December 7, 2022, the Santa Clara County court denied Woodward's multiple travel requests and required that he remain under constant monitoring by a private contractor while awaiting trial.[13]


After reminiscing about Houts at the 30th anniversary reunion of the class of 1985 from Gunderson High School, the "Friends of Laurie" established the Laurie Houts Memorial Girls Athletics Scholarship in 2015 on behalf of the Houts family in honor of Laurie's pursuit of STEM and athletics.[4][14] The Houts family hosted a basketball contest in February 2023 to honor what would have been Laurie's 56th birthday.[15]


The crime scene at the 1300 block of Crittenden Lane is now located within the campus headquarters of Google in Mountain View, California.[8][11]



  1. Laurie Houts biography: 10 things about Mountain View, California computer engineer by Daa Altatis, Conan Daily. 1992-09-06.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Virginia Houts Obituary (2002), San Jose Mercury News, 2002-11-24.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 IN COLD BLOOD: Who was Laurie Houts? by Nikki Main, The Sun. 2022-07-14.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Mountain View: Tech CEO arrested at airport, faces trial in Laurie Houts killing by Robert Salonga, The Mercury News. 2022-07-11. Archived 2022-07-14.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Mountain View detectives solve 30-year-old cold case homicide, City of Mountain View. 2022-07-11.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Laurie A Houts (1967 - 1992), AncientFaces. Accessed 2022-08-18.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A CEO stood trial twice in Calif. slaying. He’s now charged again. by Julian Mark, The Washington Post. 2022-07-14.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tech CEO arrested again on suspicion of murdering Bay Area woman in 1992 by Katie Dowd, San Francisco Chronicle. 2022-07-12.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Calif. Tech CEO Arrested and Charged in 30-Year-Old Murder Case of Laurie Houts by Olivia Jakiel, People. 2022-07-12.
  10. 10.0 10.1 In 1992, Laurie Houts was found strangled in her car. Her boyfriend's roommate — now a tech CEO — was just arrested for her murder., CBS News. 2022-07-12.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Victim's family reacts to arrest in Mountain View cold-case murder by Malea Martin, Mountain View Voice. 2022-07-11.
  12. Laurie Houts killing: Defendant can await trial at home, judge rules; her family pleads for his jailing by Robert Salonga, The Mercury News. 2022-08-31.
  13. Laurie Houts killing: Judge tightens monitoring of defendant while awaiting trial by Jakob Rodgers, The Mercury News. 2022-12-07.
  14. Board Member's Bios, Gunderson High School Foundation. Archived 2021-12-06.
  15. Community briefs: Event honors murder victim by Malea Martin, Mountain View Voice. 2023-02-01.

See also[]

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