News

Convicted murderer John Getreu's own words pointed to his guilt in cold-case slayings of two women on Stanford land

John Getreu, 77, was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Janet Ann Taylor in March 1974. Courtesy San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Convicted murderer John Arthur Getreu revealed multiple times during a law enforcement interview that he had knowledge of the murders of two women found on Stanford University land in the 1970s.

Getreu lied repeatedly to Santa Clara County Sheriff Det. Noe Cortez during his 2018 interrogation related to the 1973 murder of Leslie Marie Perlov. Her body was found on Stanford property located in Santa Clara County.

Getreu's interrogation was presented last week during his trial in San Mateo County Superior Court for the strangulation murder of Janet Ann Taylor, who was found in a San Mateo County ditch on Sand Hill Road and Manzanita Way in 1974, just 13 months after Perlov's murder.

On Tuesday during closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Josh Stauffer again reminded the jury of Getreu's inculpatory statements by presenting excerpts from the interrogation.

When Cortez asked if he was ever arrested, Getreu said no. Yet, Getreu, at age 18, had been arrested in 1963 for the murder of his classmate, Margaret Williams, and was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in a German prison. He also was convicted of statutory rape after accepting a plea deal in the 1975 rape of a Palo Alto teenager, Stauffer noted.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Join

Getreu continued to lie about the Williams murder.

"Did you tell them you did it?" Cortez asked.

Getreu said no.

Getreu conceded he was arrested for raping Palo Alto teen "Diane Doe" after being confronted by Cortez.

"I was just accused, interviewed and that's it," Getreu said.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

In fact, Getreu was arrested, convicted and pleaded guilty. He received a six-month sentence and was allowed to serve his jail time on weekends.

Doe testified at the trial that Getreu had strangled her and threatened to kill her if she made any noise while he raped her in her parents' home.

"I didn't serve any time that I know of. It was so piddly," he claimed.

Getreu also revealed that he knew more about the murders of Perlov and Taylor than someone without any involvement would know, Stauffer noted.

When shown a photograph of where Perlov had parked her car to gain access for a hike in the Stanford hills, Getreu said he "never went up in the hills. I've always been on this side, not the other side."

But how would he know what side of the open space area her body was found? Stauffer said.

John Getreu, 77, has pleaded not guilty to the killing of Leslie Marie Perlov, 21, whose body was found on Stanford University land in February 1973. Courtesy Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

Cortez showed Getreu a portrait photograph of Perlov and a crime scene photo of her face-down in the dirt, her skirt hiked above her naked hips.

"She's cute, anyway," Getreu said, chillingly.

"Did you ever fantasize about murder or raping girls?" Cortez asked.

"That's what it looks like," Getreu replied.

When asked if he would pass a lie detector test, Getreu replied, "It depends on what questions you ask me."

Getreu also began talking about a second murdered girl during the interview.

Cortez never brought up two girls, Stauffer noted.

Cortez was, in fact, only investigating Perlov's killing. Getreu admitted his knowledge of a second crime, Stauffer noted.

Looking at the photograph of Perlov lying face down, Getreu admitted some presence in the crime.

"OK, I had involvement, but I don't remember it," he said.

He tried to cover for mentioning a second girl by claiming that the portrait of Perlov he was shown looked like a different girl than the one of Perlov lying dead.

"It doesn't match. It doesn't even look like the same girl," he said.

Arliss Perry, 19, was killed in Stanford Memorial Church in 1974. Courtesy Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

He also tried to say the second girl he was referring to was Arliss Perry, a woman who was found stabbed to death in Stanford's Memorial Church in 1974. (Getreu is not connected to that crime. The main suspect died by suicide shortly before his arrest in 2019.)

Cortez noted that Getreu had taken responsibility for the murder of Williams in Germany and the rape of Diane Doe in Palo Alto, but why was he not taking responsibility for these other crimes?

"You had to have known this was coming," Cortez said.

"Yeah, I knew that," Getreu said, but he didn't understand "why it took so damn long?"

Getreu also thought that detectives would never be able to show he had a past conviction for Margaret Williams' murder and rape in Germany.

The original situation that led to his arrest wasn't true and he wasn't there, he said, not realizing that police had received all of the case files from Germany — and a confession he made to German authorities.

"What do you think your chances are ... that your DNA is there?" Cortez asked, referring to the Williams murder.

"There's a brick wall. You found out, but you couldn't find out," he said.

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Get uninterrupted access to important local crime news. Become a member today.

Convicted murderer John Getreu's own words pointed to his guilt in cold-case slayings of two women on Stanford land

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 8:55 am

Convicted murderer John Arthur Getreu revealed multiple times during a law enforcement interview that he had knowledge of the murders of two women found on Stanford University land in the 1970s.

Getreu lied repeatedly to Santa Clara County Sheriff Det. Noe Cortez during his 2018 interrogation related to the 1973 murder of Leslie Marie Perlov. Her body was found on Stanford property located in Santa Clara County.

Getreu's interrogation was presented last week during his trial in San Mateo County Superior Court for the strangulation murder of Janet Ann Taylor, who was found in a San Mateo County ditch on Sand Hill Road and Manzanita Way in 1974, just 13 months after Perlov's murder.

On Tuesday during closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Josh Stauffer again reminded the jury of Getreu's inculpatory statements by presenting excerpts from the interrogation.

When Cortez asked if he was ever arrested, Getreu said no. Yet, Getreu, at age 18, had been arrested in 1963 for the murder of his classmate, Margaret Williams, and was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in a German prison. He also was convicted of statutory rape after accepting a plea deal in the 1975 rape of a Palo Alto teenager, Stauffer noted.

Getreu continued to lie about the Williams murder.

"Did you tell them you did it?" Cortez asked.

Getreu said no.

Getreu conceded he was arrested for raping Palo Alto teen "Diane Doe" after being confronted by Cortez.

"I was just accused, interviewed and that's it," Getreu said.

In fact, Getreu was arrested, convicted and pleaded guilty. He received a six-month sentence and was allowed to serve his jail time on weekends.

Doe testified at the trial that Getreu had strangled her and threatened to kill her if she made any noise while he raped her in her parents' home.

"I didn't serve any time that I know of. It was so piddly," he claimed.

Getreu also revealed that he knew more about the murders of Perlov and Taylor than someone without any involvement would know, Stauffer noted.

When shown a photograph of where Perlov had parked her car to gain access for a hike in the Stanford hills, Getreu said he "never went up in the hills. I've always been on this side, not the other side."

But how would he know what side of the open space area her body was found? Stauffer said.

Cortez showed Getreu a portrait photograph of Perlov and a crime scene photo of her face-down in the dirt, her skirt hiked above her naked hips.

"She's cute, anyway," Getreu said, chillingly.

"Did you ever fantasize about murder or raping girls?" Cortez asked.

"That's what it looks like," Getreu replied.

When asked if he would pass a lie detector test, Getreu replied, "It depends on what questions you ask me."

Getreu also began talking about a second murdered girl during the interview.

Cortez never brought up two girls, Stauffer noted.

Cortez was, in fact, only investigating Perlov's killing. Getreu admitted his knowledge of a second crime, Stauffer noted.

Looking at the photograph of Perlov lying face down, Getreu admitted some presence in the crime.

"OK, I had involvement, but I don't remember it," he said.

He tried to cover for mentioning a second girl by claiming that the portrait of Perlov he was shown looked like a different girl than the one of Perlov lying dead.

"It doesn't match. It doesn't even look like the same girl," he said.

He also tried to say the second girl he was referring to was Arliss Perry, a woman who was found stabbed to death in Stanford's Memorial Church in 1974. (Getreu is not connected to that crime. The main suspect died by suicide shortly before his arrest in 2019.)

Cortez noted that Getreu had taken responsibility for the murder of Williams in Germany and the rape of Diane Doe in Palo Alto, but why was he not taking responsibility for these other crimes?

"You had to have known this was coming," Cortez said.

"Yeah, I knew that," Getreu said, but he didn't understand "why it took so damn long?"

Getreu also thought that detectives would never be able to show he had a past conviction for Margaret Williams' murder and rape in Germany.

The original situation that led to his arrest wasn't true and he wasn't there, he said, not realizing that police had received all of the case files from Germany — and a confession he made to German authorities.

"What do you think your chances are ... that your DNA is there?" Cortez asked, referring to the Williams murder.

"There's a brick wall. You found out, but you couldn't find out," he said.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

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.