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Tech CEO arrested for 30-year-old murder in alleged love triangle gone sour

A tech CEO was arrested at JFK airport last week for the killing of his roommate’s girlfriend three decades ago in a love triangle that turned deadly.

John Woodward — the president and CEO of California-based Readytech — was cuffed as he arrived at JFK airport last Saturday for the killing of 25-year-old Laurie Houts on Sept. 5, 1992, officials said Monday.

Woodward allegedly strangled Houts to death with rope in a jealous fit after developing unrequited feelings for his roommate, who Houts was dating at the time, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office.

The tech CEO, who moved to the Netherlands after the murder, was the prime suspect during the initial investigation in the ’90s, but a lack of evidence led a judge to dismiss the case after two court trials with hung juries.

Woodward, now 58, was openly jealous of Houts, a computer engineer, for her relationship with his roommate and had no alibi, the DA said.

He even as asked what investigators knew in response to his roommate — who was wearing a wire — directly asking if he had killed his girlfriend.

Houts was found in her car with the rope around her neck in Mountain View, California.
Mountain View Police Department

His fingerprints were found on the outside of Houts’ car, where her body was found with a rope around her neck, by a passerby in Mountain View, California, but investigators were never able to place him inside the vehicle — until about thirty years later.

In 2021, the Santa Clara County Crime Lab and Mountain View Police Department detectives weren’t just able to prove that Woodward was inside Houts’ car — they linked him to the murder weapon.

New developments in forensic testing turned up DNA evidence on the rope used to strangle Houts which was matched back to Woodward.

Laurie Houts
New developments in forensic testing turned up DNA evidence on the rope used to strangle Houts which was matched back to Woodward.
Mountain View Police Department

Woodward was charged with murder by strangulation and is currently being held without bail in New York while he awaits extradition to California. He will be arraigned when he arrives in Santa Clara County and faces life in prison if convicted.

Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen said his office never stopped seeking justice for Houts and her family, even after two failed trials.

“I want Ms. Houts family and friends to know that we never gave up on her,” Rosen said in a statement. “Neither time nor distance will stop us from finding out the truth and seeking justice.”  

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