Arrest in 1970s cold-case murder points to serial killer

Charged last year in Stanford Dish murder, John Arthur Getreu to make first court appearance for death of Janet Ann Taylor this afternoon

Editor's note: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence.

Nearly six months after a Hayward man was charged in another murder that had gone unsolved for decades, DNA evidence has led investigators to accuse him of the 1974 killing of a 21-year-old woman near the Stanford University campus, San Mateo County sheriff's investigators announced today.

John Arthur Getreu, 74, of Hayward, will be arraigned today for the death of Janet Ann Taylor, whose body was found by a delivery driver on March 25, 1974 off the side of the road Sand Hill Road and Manzanita Road, property owned by Stanford. Taylor was the daughter of former Stanford Athletic Director Chuck Taylor.

The night before, she was hitchhiking home to La Honda from a friend's house in Palo Alto, that last time anyone saw her, San Mateo County Assistant Sheriff Gregory Rothaus said at a press conference Thursday morning.

The coroner's office determined her death was a homicide by strangulation and concluded she wasn't raped, but investigators determined there was a "sexual motivation" behind the alleged crime based on Getreu's criminal history, according to Rothaus.

Getreu is the same man who was arrested for the murder of Leslie Ann Perlov, a Stanford University graduate who was last seen on Feb. 13, 1973 and found three days under an oak tree in an area known now known as The Dish. Getreu was arrested on Nov. 20, 2018 and has yet to enter a plea in that case.

After Getreu's arrest, San Mateo County sheriff's investigators submitted additional items to the county crime lab, including Taylor's clothing with DNA that was a match for Getreu.

The sheriff's office sent its case to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office on May 10 and subsequently an arrest warrant was issued for Getreu, who is currently in custody in San Mateo County jail.

Rothaus stated that Getreu was previously convicted for the rape and death of a 16-year-old girl in Germany in the 1960s and also convicted in Santa Clara County for a 1975 rape.

Getreu is scheduled to make his first court appearance in the Taylor case this afternoon in San Mateo County Superior Court, after which time he'll return to Santa Clara County's custody.

This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


5 people like this
Posted by Sandy Crittenden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 16, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Sandy Crittenden is a registered user.

Janet Taylor was a classmate of mine at Menlo Atherton High School. She was a smart pretty girl. I remember hearing about her murder. Hitchhiking was common back then. I used to hitchhike myself. It seemed that a young pretty woman hitching was dangerous.
It turned tragic for Janet.

Like this comment
Posted by Mar
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 17, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Hitchhiking is no longer popular, for good reason. I also hitchhiked during high school in the mid 70’s and am lucky to be here. Do not hitchhike, especially if you are a female and you are alone. We have Uber and we have cell phones which make life safer.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Nationally renowned Indian restaurant expanding to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 2,438 views

Summer travel: Is anything changing?
By Sherry Listgarten | 8 comments | 1,025 views

Swimming with the kids
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 581 views

Premarital and Couples: "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 575 views

Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing
By Laura Stec | 10 comments | 500 views