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Suspected Serial Killer Convicted Of Slaying Of Stanford Student In 1974 Cold Case Murder

A jury quickly found John Arthur Getreu guilty of killing Janet Ann Taylor, one year after he allegedly killed Leslie Perlov, and 11 years after killing Margaret Williams.

By Gina Tron
John Getreu Ap

A suspected serial killer in California has now been convicted of killing a college student in California 48 years ago.

A San Mateo County jury spent just a little more than an hour deliberating on Tuesday before they found 77-year-old John Arthur Getreu guilty of first-degree murder for the 1974 killing of college sophomore Janet Ann Taylor, ABC News reports.

The 21-year-old had been strangled before her body was ditched along a roadside near the Stanford University campus, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office stated in a Wednesday press release.Taylor vanished after visiting a friend on the school's campus and was last seen trying to hitchhike home, the Palo Alto Daily Post reported.

Leads in the case turned cold and it remained unsolved until 2018 when the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Team reopened the investigation. They took a fresh look at evidence with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office detectives, who were investigating the 1973 murder of 21-year-old Leslie Perlov. Getreu has since been charged with Perlov’s murder; he will be tried next year for her killing. He he has pleaded not guilty in that case.

Police noted back in the 1970s that it was possible that the two murders were committed by the same person, according to the Daily Post.

“This is not the end," Diane Perlov, Leslie Perlov’s sister told ABC News following Tuesday’s verdict. "We are moving forward. I want a trial for my sister’s case. I don’t want any deals. There were some really horrible photographs of what Getreu did to Janet ... and I want everyone to see them so they understand what a dangerous person he is."

Getreu worked at Stanford at the time of the murders, despite having previously been convicted of rape and murder for the 1963 sexually motivated murder of 15-year-old Margaret Williams in Germany.

During the trial, prosecutors detailed how detectives used genetic genealogy to identify Getreu as the man who killed Taylor; they called her killing another sexually-motivated attack. Criminalist Alice Hilker of the San Mateo County Forensics Laboratory testified at Taylor’s trial that DNA evidence taken from the torn crotch area of her pants matched to a DNA sample from Getreu, as is outlined in the district attorney’s press release.

Getreu has also been convicted of raping a 17-year-old Palo Alto resident Diane Doe in 1975.

“My family had no clue about my father’s past and have nothing but sympathy for all of his victims," Getreu's son, Aaron Getreu, told ABC News. "We only knew him as a loving father and grandfather, but science doesn’t lie. With this conviction, I hope these families can now have closure.”