Twenty-three years after the murder of a young B.C. couple, investigators have finally tracked down the man who once falsely claimed responsibility for the crimes.

Victoria residents Jack Cook, 20, and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 19, were both murdered on a camping trip to Washington State in 1987.

In the months that followed, police and the victims' families received dozens of letters from a man claiming to be the killer. They bore postmarks from Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and even inside Canada.

The letters stopped long ago, after the case had already gone cold, until a story ran on the show "Washington's Most Wanted" a few weeks ago.

The story generated tips that led to a homeless man. Police searched a Vancouver address, but the writer was eventually found across the border by Snohomish County investigators.

"He was very apologetic and several times quite vocally exclaimed how stupid it was and how horrible it was," Det. Jim Scharf said.

The unidentified letter writer is now an old man, and investigators don't believe he would do something like this again. Police have long known that he wasn't the killer, because DNA at the crime scene didn't match that found on the letters.

"About the only thing I think we could charge him with would be harassment, and the statute of limitation would be up on that after three years," Scharf said.

But the development has sparked new hope for the victims' families.

"A lot of the information was in the media 23 years ago and it didn't result in these leads coming forth...and this letter-writing being solved," Tanya's brother John Van Cuylenborg said.

"The fact that these leads are coming forward 23 years later has to give you some renewed hope or confidence that somebody will come forth with some details."