Watch CBS News

John Getreu Convicted Of 1974 Cold Case Murder On Stanford Campus

REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) -- A jury convicted 77-year-old John Getreu of first-degree murder in one of two cold case murders on the Stanford University campus from the 1970s he was charged with after new DNA evidence was uncovered.

Jurors on Tuesday took less than an hour to convict Getreu of the March 1974 murder of Janet Ann Taylor, the youngest daughter of former Stanford athletic director Charles Taylor. She was found strangled along Sand Hill Road in the foothills above the campus in an area now known as the Dish.

Taylor's murder was unsolved until 2018 when San Mateo County Sheriff's Office detectives reopened the case working with detectives from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, who were investigating the February 1973 murder of 21-year-old Leslie Perlov. Her body was also was found strangled and dumped in a clump of bushes along the Stanford Dish hiking area.

Palo Alto cold case suspect
John Arthur Getreu (Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)

Getreu was arrested at his Hayward home in November of 2018 and charged with Perlov's murder after investigators used preserved DNA obtained from Perlov's fingernails to positively identify him as the suspect. In May of 2019, Getreu was charged with Taylor's murder after investigators used the DNA profile developed in the Perlov case to link him to Taylor's killing, using DNA evidence that was obtained from a discarded coffee cup.

Getreu still faces trial in the Perlov case. Perlov's and Taylor's deaths were two of five murders on or near the Stanford campus between 1972 and 1976.

At the time of his arrest in 2018, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Getreu might be a serial killer. Getreu was previously convicted of murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl in Germany in 1963 where he was charged as a juvenile; and the rape of a 17-year-old in Palo Alto in 1975 in which he pleaded guilty to statutory rape.

Janet Ann Taylor
Janet Ann Taylor (San Mateo County Sheriff's Office)

"Though it has taken 47 years, Investigators with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office have never wavered in their desire to bring justice to the family of Janet Taylor," Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said in a prepared statement Wednesday. "Through the collaborative efforts of the Investigations Cold Case Unit, the Sheriff's Investigations Bureau, and the District Attorney's Office, we are proud to have finally secured a guilty verdict and closure in this horrific case. I would finally like to thank the jury for all their hard work and dedication to seeking out the truth. Ms. Taylor, you are not forgotten."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.