San Francisco Chronicle
DNA match leads to conviction in 1974 strangulation
A Hayward man was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday of the 1974 strangulation of Janet Taylor, 21-year-old daughter of Stanford football legend and former Stanford Athletic Director Chuck Taylor.
A San Mateo County jury took just over an hour to convict John Arthur Getreu, a former Stanford hospital employee, of Taylor’s murder.
A community college student, Taylor was last seen hitchhiking on Junipero Serra Boulevard on the western edge of campus, on March 24, 1974. Her body was found the next morning by a truck driver along Sand Hill Road, on the north side of Stanford land and across the San
Mateo County line.
According to prosecutor Josh Stauffer, Getreu’s arrest and conviction stemmed from a cold-case DNA match linked to a similar murder that happened in the same area, in February 1973. The body of Leslie Perlov, a 21-year-old Stanford graduate on her way to law school at Yale, had been found near the Stanford Dish, a popular running trail also off Junipero Serra.
“These were two murders always suspected of being committed by the same person,” said Stauffer. “They were both strangled to death and sexually assaulted in some ways.”
Using DNA taken from under Perlov’s fingernails, Santa Clara County investigators were able to match the DNA to the family
of the suspect who was arrested in Hayward, where he was living, in 2018.
Now 77, Getreu was 18 when convicted of a 1963 killing of a young woman in West Germany. Getreu had been living there with his father, who was in the military. Convicted of “rape with fatal consequences,” Getreu served five years of a 10-year sentence.
At the time of the two Stanford murders, he had been living in the Redwood City and Palo Alto areas. He was later convicted of the 1975 rape of a Palo Alto woman.
Among those who testified at his trial for the murder of Taylor was his ex-wife, who stated that her husband would disappear randomly during the week. The key piece of evidence, according to Stauffer, was Getreu’s DNA, which lab technician Alice Hilker was able to get from the pants worn by Taylor at the time of her attack.
“She was the star of the show,” Stauffer said. “She made the match of Getreu’s DNA to the interior of Janet Taylor’s pants.”
Taylor’s last surviving family member was a sister, who was in attendance to hear the verdict. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 5. Getreu still awaits trial for the killing of Perlov.
Getreu’s attorney, John Halley of Redwood City, could not be reached for comment.
“It is tremendous for the family of each of the victims to have closure,” said Stauffer. “It’s been a long time coming. It took 47 years.”