Alleged serial killer pleads not guilty in 1973 murder case

Former Palo Alto resident John Arthur Getreu, 75, is suspected of murdering Leslie Marie Perlov

A former Stanford Hospital medical technician pleaded not guilty on Monday morning for the 1973 murder of a 21-year-old Stanford University graduate.

Wheelchaired into the Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, John Arthur Getreu, 75, entered his plea in the case of Leslie Marie Perlov, making this his second not-guilty plea to a homicide this year. In June, he pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Janet Ann Taylor, whose body was found on March 25, 1974 in San Mateo County on Stanford University lands.

Both once cold cases, the mystery behind the deaths of Taylor and Perlov only began to unravel last fall when DNA samples taken from Perlov's body were submitted to a public genealogical website by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office investigators.

Using similar methods that helped identify the alleged infamous "Golden State Killer," Joseph James DeAngelo, investigators were able to match the samples to Getreu's DNA, leading to the former Palo Altan's arrest on Nov. 20, 2018. He was charged with strangulation murder by Santa Clara County prosecutors six days later.

After Getreu's arrest, San Mateo County sheriff's investigators submitted Taylor's clothing, including a pair of torn, green corduroy pants, for DNA testing, which also proved a match with Gertreu's DNA. He was arraigned for Taylor's murder on May 16 and entered his plea one month later.

Perlov was a Stanford graduate and a clerk at the North County Law Library in Palo Alto before her body was found on Feb. 16, 1973, under an oak tree in the Stanford foothills with a scarf tightly tied around her neck. The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coronor's Office determined she was strangled with a ligature. Police did not identify any motives or primary suspects beyond a blond man who was seen near Perlov's car before she went missing.

Four decades later, following significant developments in DNA genealogy and databases, cold-case investigators were able to use DNA samples to identify Getreu as the alleged killer.

On Nov. 26, 2018, Getreu appeared for his arraignment at the Santa Clara County Superior Court, where Diane Perlov, sister of the murder victim, requested the court withhold Getreu's bail and provided a statement inside a packed courtroom.

"The scarf tied around her neck that day was mine. I cannot walk alone in the woods. After work, I will not walk through the deserted parking garage. I won't let anyone touch my neck. These things have become second nature to me," Diane Perlov said.

Prior to his 2018 arrest, Getreu was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the 1963 rape and murder of 16-year-old Margaret Williams in Germany when he was 18 years old. It is unclear how many years of the sentence he served.

In 1975, he was accused of raping a 17-year-old Palo Alto teen inside her parents' home. Getreu pleaded to statutory rape and was sentenced to six months in jail, with five months suspended.

Although arrested for Perlov's murder before Taylor's, Getreu did not enter a plea in the Perlov case in a July 15 court hearing at the Santa Clara County Superior Court.


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8 people like this
Posted by Lauren
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2019 at 7:24 am

Sentenced to six months for rape with a 5 months suspended. Way to go Santa clara county. Another failed sexual assult case. What a joke.

Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Believe me I’m not trying to defend this monster,but statutory rape is defines as having sex with a minor.
There is no mention as to whether it was consensual. Nor does it mention his age at the time.

4 people like this
Posted by link
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 6:04 pm

I think there was a previous story - apparently it was a serious miscarriage of justice against the girl at the time. It was not consensual.

8 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2019 at 9:49 pm

So he's been raping and murdering since he was 18, and has gotten away with most of his crimes, and lived most of his life outside of prison. What a POS.

If he's 75 in 2019, he was 31 in 1975. A 17 year old MINOR can NOT consent to sex with a 31 year old. It's still rape, and statutory rape under the law because she was a minor. Consensual sex argument would make sense if two seniors in high school (ages 17 and 18) had sex because they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

3 people like this
Posted by Lauren
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2019 at 7:38 am

@Roger Do the math on his age.. 31yr old and 17yr old. Enough said.

1 person likes this
Posted by The Way Back Machine
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 4, 2019 at 12:26 pm

How could such a person (if found guilty) have lived with himself after all of these past years/decades?

It makes one's skin crawl.

Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 4, 2019 at 1:49 pm

as I said I wasn’t defending him no question he is a monster. My response was only to one post and since no one knows the circumstances it could possibly be that the sentence in that one case was appropriate.
As for his other crimes the death penalty would be too good for him.
I’m sure I’ll get negative feedback for that too. Which will prove my point.

2 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2019 at 9:11 am

Roger - Are you that dense? It doesn't matter what the "circumstances" were. He was 31, and she was 17. 17 year old minors CAN'T consent to sex with ADULTS. It's ILLEGAL. Do you get it now?

Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
11 hours ago

Please understand I’m not dense and yeah I realize that it’s illegal, but let’s imagine for a moment she said she was 22 and looked it.
His punishment in this case suggests there were some extenuating circumstances.
You missed my point completely.
Is he a monster ,sure he is,
My comment is based solely on what Lauren stated in comment one.

4 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
11 hours ago

Considering his history of RAPE, it's ABUNDANTELY CLEAR what happened in 1975. He RAPED her. If you can't read between the lines, you're being dense. He's a serial RAPIST.

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