Crime Alert: 45-year-old cold case in San Mateo County solved

Bay Area
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SAN MATEO COUNTY (KRON) — The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday the arrest of a man in connection with a the murder of a woman in 1974. 

In a press conference, authorities said 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu of Hayward has been arrested for the murder of 21-year-old Janet Taylor in March of 1974. 

Authorities used the same advanced DNA testing used to crack the Golden State Killer case.

Getreu was already in custody in Santa Clara County where he was arrested and charged last year with sexually assaulting and strangling 21-year-old Leslie Perlov in 1973.

Getreu was arrested in both cases after investigators sent DNA samples stored with the evidence to the same publicly available DNA database access to arrest alleged serial killer Joseph DeAngelo. The results were connected to a Getreu family member that led investigators to the suspect.

From the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department:

On Thursday, May 16, 2019, Investigators from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office served an
arrest warrant on 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu from Hayward, California for the 1974 murder of
Janet Taylor. Getreu was transferred to the San Mateo County Jail this morning from the Santa Clara
County Jail where he was being held for the 1973 murder of Leslie Perlov in that County. Getreu will
be arraigned in San Mateo County today for the charge of 187PC – murder. Getreu will be returned
to Santa Clara County jail immediately after his arraignment in San Mateo County and will face
charges in that County first.


On March 25th, a delivery driver was making his way along Sand Hill Road west of Interstate 280 and
saw the body of a young female off the side of the highway. The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office
took possession of the victim and concluded that the manner of death was a homicide. The victim
was discovered to be Janet Taylor and the homicide was a result of strangulation. Although the
coroner’s investigation concluded the victim was not raped, evidence clearly indicates a sexual
motivation for the crime.


The murder investigation was assumed by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and, within days,
our homicide detectives began conferring with their counterparts in Santa Clara County. It was their
belief that the murder of Janet Taylor was potentially connected to the slaying of 21-year old Leslie
Perlov in Santa Clara County the year before. The suspect’s MO was very similar and both victims
were last seen leaving the Stanford University campus area before their murders. For many years,
both killings remained unsolved despite the sincere efforts of seasoned investigators.


In 2017, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case investigators David Tresmontan and Rick
Jackson re-initiated the investigation into the Janet Taylor murder. Once again, they began working
in conjunction with homicide investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. As part of our
combined efforts on this case, both agencies submitted evidence to our respective crime labs for
DNA analysis. Unfortunately, there was no DNA evidence in items we submitted but Santa Clara
County’s crime lab located an unknown male DNA profile on evidentiary items submitted by their
Sheriff’s Office. Through further investigation, they determined that the DNA belonged to 74-year-old
John Arthur Getreu of Hayward, California. On November 20th of last year, the Santa Clara County
Sheriff’s arrested John Getreu for the murder of Leslie Perlov. Getreu remains in custody without
bail.


After the identification of a suspect in the Santa Clara County case, our Investigators in the San
Mateo County Sheriff’s Office combed through more evidence in the Janet Taylor case and submitted
additional items to our crime lab. This time, the crime lab was able to find male DNA profile on
clothing worn by Janet Taylor and that DNA profile was consistent with that of John Getreu’s.
Through our investigation, we learned much more about the suspect in this case.


Our investigation into John Getreu revealed that he had been connected to the Palo Alto area during
the time both Janet Taylor and Leslie Perlov were murdered. We also learned that in addition to him
now being a suspect in two cold homicides on the Peninsula, in 1964 he was put on trial for rape
resulting in the death of a 16-year-girl in Germany. Getreu was just 18-years-old at the time. Further,
we learned that he was also convicted of raping a woman in Santa Clara County. Many of the
records on Getrue are old and/or incomplete so we are still researching his past.


Our case was presented to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and on May 10, 2019, an
arrest warrant was issued for John Arthur Getreu for the 1974 murder of Janet Taylor.
There are many people from various agencies whose dedication over the years has helped us to now
bring justice to the victim in this case. Our Sheriff, Carlos Bolanos, would like to thank past and
present members of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for their strong support and partnership in this investigation. In addition, we would like to extend our appreciation for the hard work and
professionalism of the San Mateo County Forensic Laboratory, the San Mateo County Coroner’s
Office, members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit from the FBI, all the former Sheriff’s Office
investigators and volunteers who helped canvas the scene in 1974, and many members of the public
who came forward initially and are continuing to assist us.


Investigators have contacted the family and close friends of the victim and they request that their
privacy be respected at this time.

Statement from family of Janet Taylor:
“Janet lived life with enthusiasm and courage. As a spunky, fun-loving youngest of three
children, she added much laughter and joy to our family. She loved animals and cherished her
friends. We have missed being able to have her in our lives. Janet’s future was bright. It would have
been wonderful to see what she would have done. We can’t ever know all that we missed, but
whatever she pursued, Janet would have served others with passion and kindness.
We’re grateful today for the diligent, meticulous work of the law enforcement officers whose
efforts have resulted in today’s announcement. They’ve done this difficult work with integrity and
excellence, and with compassion for our family.

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