Serial killer John Getreu found guilty of murdering Stanford student in 1974 after DNA match

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Serial killer John Getreu found guilty of murdering Stanford student in 1974 after DNA match

A serial killer was found guilty of murdering a Stanford University student nearly 50 years ago after a DNA breakthrough that tied him to killing. 

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A serial killer was found guilty of murdering a Stanford University student nearly 50 years ago after a DNA breakthrough that tied him to killing. 

Jurors took just one hour to find John Arthur Getreu, 77, guilty of killing 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor Wednesday after just one hour of jury deliberation.

Taylor, the daughter of legendary Stanford football coach Chuck Taylor, was found beaten, strangled and left on the side of the road near the campus on March 24, 1974. 

Prosecutor John Stauffer said that Getreu’s crimes were sexually motivated and used DNA evidence to identify Getreu in Taylor’s death, according to ABC News.

Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies were able to take DNA evidence from a coffee cup that Getreu had thrown away matched with DNA found on the torn green pants of Taylor. 

Investigators could not conclusively determine whether Taylor had been raped. 

John Arthur Getreu, 77, was found guilty of killing 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor Wednesday

John Arthur Getreu, 77, was found guilty of killing 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor Wednesday

Getreu was an employee at the school at the time of the murder.   

He was a supposed family man and Boy Scout leader in his Palo Alto, California hometown. 

However, as prosecutor John Stauffer said, he was also living a double life predator, having previously been convicted for rape and murder.  

In closing arguments, Stauffer mentioned two of Getreu’s other known victims: Diane Doe, a 17-year-old rape victim, and 15-year-old Margaret Williams, who Getreu killed in 1963 while he lived in Germany. 

In the Doe case, Getreu took a guilty plea deal for statutory rape, paid a $200 fine and was sentenced to six months in jail.

In the Williams case, Getreu was convicted in Germany and tried as a juvenile in 1964 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released in 1969 and returned to the United States.

Another woman, Sharon Lucchese, has accused Getreu of attempting to murder her in 1969.  

Taylor, the daughter of legendary Stanford football coach Chuck Taylor, was found beaten, strangled and left on the side of the road near the campus on March 24, 1974.

Taylor, the daughter of legendary Stanford football coach Chuck Taylor, was found beaten, strangled and left on the side of the road near the campus on March 24, 1974.

He was also charged and will be tried next year for the murder of Stanford graduate Leslie Perlov just a year prior in 1973. 

The DNA evidence match, which was aided by using a genetic genealogy website, was used to tie Taylor and Perlov’s cases together to Getreu. They had found DNA under Perlov’s fingernails that gave detectives a break in the case.  

Getreu has pleaded not guilty in Perlov’s case, which he also did in Taylor’s case. The Perlov case was scheduled to begin in September 2020, but was delayed due to Getreu suffering a brain aneurism.    

Stauffer told the jury that this was a pattern of behavior from Taylor, noting the similarities in the cases.

‘He took her with the intent to rape her. He attacked her. Tore her clothes. Struck her in the face. Repeated punches to the face. He strangled her, ‘ said Stauffer.

In closing arguments, Getreu’s attorney John Halley asserted that the prosecution had not proved Getreu’s was guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’  

Perlov’s younger sister flew in from Los Angeles to monitor the trial.  

‘While these promising lives are gone forever, thanks to the dogged work of detectives and the advances in forensic science, I have hope that future lives will be saved and other predators held accountable,’ she said. 

Perlov believes, however, that more justice is coming.  

‘This is not the end,’ Perlov said. ‘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’s son Aaron expressed remorse when contacted about the verdict.  

‘My family had no clue about my father’s past and have nothing but sympathy for all of his victims,’ he said. ‘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.’  

Getreu was also charged and will be tried next year for the murder of Stanford graduate Leslie Perlov just a year prior in 1973

Getreu was also charged and will be tried next year for the murder of Stanford graduate Leslie Perlov just a year prior in 1973

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