He eluded identification for more than 45 years after allegedly strangling two young women on the Stanford University campus. Now, on the cusp of his first trial, John Arthur Getreu remains hospitalized as doctors suspect he suffered a stroke or brain embolism, throwing his case in San Mateo County into flux.
The 76-year-old man from Hayward is charged in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties with first-degree murder in the deaths of Leslie Marie Perlov and Janet Ann Taylor, both 21. Perlov was found partially undressed in Santa Clara County near what is now the Stanford Dish on Feb. 17, 1973, and Taylor was found in a ditch in San Mateo County located on Stanford land off Sand Hill Road and Manzanita Way on March 25, 1974.
After decades of cold trails, investigators finally cracked their cases through new DNA technology in 2018. Santa Clara County sheriff's investigators identified Getreu through his DNA as the suspect and arrested him for Perlov's murder in November 2018. San Mateo County investigators tied his DNA to Taylor's case and he was charged with her murder in May 2019. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases and has since remained in Santa Clara County Main Jail without bail.
Getreu's trial in Taylor's case was to begin on Sept. 28 with jury selection, but it was postponed because he was admitted to the hospital, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said at the time. He reportedly underwent surgery, returned to jail and was readmitted into a hospital, Wagstaffe said on Thursday, Oct. 1. He is also set for a trial-setting hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Nov. 4.
Getreu remains in the hospital where he is expected to stay for at least the next week. Doctors are still figuring out his medical situation, which might be a stroke or a brain embolism, Wagstaffe said. The condition is impacting his ability to communicate. A court hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday to update information regarding his medical condition on the record, Wagstaffe said.
Attorneys will meet with the judge for a status conference during the first week of November, but Getreu will probably need to go through rehabilitation for his medical condition, Wagstaffe said. The trial is expected to start in the first week of January if Getreu's health has improved.