Sheriff: Killer in 45-year-old Palo Alto cold case arrested

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An East Bay man who fits the profile of a serial killer has been arrested in connection with a 45-year-old cold case murder investigation out of Palo Alto.

The Hayward man has been linked to the 1973 killing of a young law student through DNA analysis.

“Even though this person has lived for 45 years without being in prison, he’s in jail now,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.

Sheriff Smith is talking about 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu, of Hayward, under arrest in connection with the Feb. 1973 murder of then 21-year-old Stanford University graduate Leslie Marie Perlov.

“We had evidence from 1973 that had been preserved, that had DNA that we believed came from the suspect and using a DNA familial database, we were able to identify potential suspects.”

Perlov’s body was found near her car in the hills off Old Page Mill Road near Stanford University. She had been strangled.

A sample of Getreu’s DNA was sent to the Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs, specializing in genetic genealogy, says Sgt. Noe Cortez.

“They look into profiles and family members and the public database and from there, they look into generations of family members and they link the DNA to a specific person,” Cortez said.

A similar DNA search led to the recent arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, the suspected Golden State Killer.

Getreu reportedly worked in Palo Alto when Perlov was murdered.

He may be a suspect in other cold case investigations, says the sheriff.

“In my opinion, he may very well be a serial killer, but we still have a lot of investigating to do,” Sheriff Smith said.

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