REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — A 74-year-old Hayward man already in custody for a 1973 murder in Palo Alto has been arrested for a second cold case homicide from the 1970s on the Stanford University campus, San Mateo County authorities announced Thursday.
John Arthur Getreu was charged last year with the murder of Leslie Marie Perlov, who was last seen on Feb. 13, 1973, at her workplace in Palo Alto. Perlov’s body was found lying in a clump of bushes in the foothills above the campus in an area now known as the Dish.
On Thursday, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department announced that advanced DNA testing had linked Getreu to the March 1974 murder of 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor, the youngest daughter of former Stanford athletic director Charles Taylor. Her body was also found in the area of the Dish.
Taylor had been visiting the campus before she went missing.
Both women had been strangulated and Getreu’s DNA was discovered on evidence from the Taylor murder case. Around the time of the murder, Getreu was employed as a security guard by California Plant Protection Services of Palo Alto.
In a statement, Taylor’s family thanks officers for continuing their investigation all these years.
“Janet lived life with enthusiasm and courage,” the statement read. ” As a spunky, fun-loving youngest of three children, she added much laughter and joy to our family. She loved animals and cherished her friends. We have missed being able to have her in our lives. Janet’s future was bright. It would have been wonderful to see what she would have done. We can’t ever know all that we missed, but whatever she pursued, Janet would have served others with passion and kindness.”
We’re grateful today for the diligent, meticulous work of the law enforcement officers whose efforts have resulted in today’s announcement. They’ve done this difficult work with integrity and excellence, and with compassion for our family.”
Perlov, who lived with her widowed mother in Los Altos Hills, went missing after finishing her shift as a clerk at the North County Law Library in Palo Alto in the afternoon. The 21-year-old’s 1972 Orange Chevrolet Nova was found parked at an old quarry near Old Page Mill and Page Mill roads.
Three days later, her body was found under an oak tree. The medical examiner’s office determined she died of strangulation by ligature in a homicide.
The case had gone unsolved until 2018 when the DNA of an unknown man was found on a piece of evidence in the Perlov homicide. Investigators submitted it to a crime lab and Parabon NanoLabs, based in Virginia.
The company created a genetic profile and submitted the information to a genetic genealogy database, which produced results relating to the suspect’s family tree.
The sheriff’s office received the report and obtained a sample of Getreu’s DNA and found on Nov. 9 the DNA matched their existing sample from the unknown man.
“We were able to identify the suspect through familial DNA. He was not in any of the computer systems,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith at the time of Getreu’s 2018 arrest. “We had evidence from 1973 that was preserved that had DNA we believed came from the suspect.”
Investigators found Getreu was also previously convicted of murder and rape in Germany in 1963, prompting Smith to say her office might be dealing with a newly uncovered serial killer.
Getreu did not enter a plea in his first court appearance in San Mateo County Thursday afternoon. The judge rescheduled his arraignment for May 30. He is currently being held on a $10-million bond in the San Mateo County case.