Police Bulletin | January 20, 2023 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Community Pulse - January 20, 2023

Police Bulletin

Serial killer pleads guilty to 1973 murder at Stanford

A man convicted of two sexually motivated murders of young women pleaded guilty last week to the 1973 murder of Leslie Marie Perlov, a 21-year-old law librarian, on Stanford University land, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.

John Arthur Getreu, 78, formerly of Hayward, was charged in 2018 with Perlov's Feb. 13, 1973 murder after district attorney criminalists matched DNA to Getreu found under Perlov's fingernails.

Perlov's body was found in the hills overlooking the Stanford University campus in an open space area between Page Mill Road and Junipero Serra Boulevard. A floral scarf was found tightly knotted around her neck and had been used as a ligature to strangle her to death, the DA's Office said.

Getreu, a serial killer, was also charged in the cold case murder of 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor of La Honda. Taylor was the daughter of Chuck Taylor, the university's football coach and athletic director. She was found strangled in a ditch in 1974.

A San Mateo County jury convicted Getreu for Taylor's murder in 2021. Getreu was sentenced to life in prison in November 2021.

Getreu lived near Stanford and worked as a Stanford Hospital cardiology technician at the time.

The murders remained mysteries until advances in DNA technology and familial genetic databases made a match possible. Although Getreu was previously convicted of murder in a similar crime in Germany in the early 1960s, he was not in any digital database due to the age of the case and its overseas location, according to law enforcement officials.

"Justice for Leslie Perlov and her loved ones took a very long time, but it has arrived. This serial rapist and murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement on Jan. 10.

Diane Perlov, sister of Leslie Perlov, said she and her brother, Craig, were in the courtroom when Getreu pleaded guilty by video. Getreu never indicated any remorse, but she was not expecting it.

"Remorse is not a part of it, and everyone told me don't expect that. It was never going to happen," she said. But there's no excuse for his crimes, she added.

Diane Perlov feels a limited sense of closure. "There's justice without peace; there's no peace for something like this. The least I can expect is justice and that's what we got. In court, it's very procedural and cold and clinical. That part was hard. Leslie was there for me and I wanted her name to be read and wanted her to be recognized," she said.

Even after he is sentenced to life in prison on April 26, Getreu might still be freed after a relatively short stint in prison, she said.

Prosecutor Michel Amaral said that under state law, Getreu is sentenced in accordance with the sentencing guidelines that were in place in 1973. That means that despite a life sentence, he is eligible for parole in seven years from the date of his arrest. Whatever time he has served is counted toward his sentence. Getreu, who was arrested in 2018 for Perlov's murder, would have four years already toward his first eligibility for parole, he said.

Diane Perlov plans to speak at Getreu's sentencing and wants to make sure that her impact statement will be read into the record for future courts and parole boards to consider.

"Justice is blind and justice is cold, and it should be. That's hard for the victim's family in a way," she said. But the passion for justice by law enforcement, investigators and prosecutors "was really nice to see," she said.

She said Getreu's guilty plea "was a victory," particularly in light of the many lives he has damaged and destroyed. He got off with a light sentence for raping the Palo Alto teen and with a light sentence in Germany. "He felt he could do whatever he wanted," she said.

Getreu is scheduled for sentencing on April 26. Last year alone, the Cold Case Unit at the District Attorney's Office helped solve five cold case murders and seven sexual assaults, the DA's Office said.

-- Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from PleasantonWeekly.com sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.


2023 guide to summer camps

Looking for something for the kids to do this summer, learn something new and have fun? The Summer Camp Guide features local camps for all ages and interests.

Find Camps Here