Editor's note: Descriptions of crime in this article may be disturbing to some readers.
Alleged serial killer John Arthur Getreu was convicted of killing and raping a 15-year-old girl in Germany in 1964, a decade before the strangled bodies of two young women he is now accused of killing were found on Stanford University land, the brother of the murdered teenager testified on Tuesday.
Evan David Williams, a pastor, said that Getreu killed his sister on June 9, 1963, when his family and Getreu's parents were stationed at the U.S. Army base in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. His sister, Margaret Williams, was found on a field beaten about the face, strangled and raped.
Williams said his father, who was an army chaplain at the time, told him that Getreu had been arrested for the crime.
Getreu, 77, of Hayward, is now being tried in San Mateo County Superior Court for allegedly killing Janet Ann Taylor, 21, whose beaten face and strangled body was found in a ditch near the intersection of Sand Hill Road and Manzanita Way in 1974. Taylor was the second woman found on Stanford land with similar injuries. Leslie Marie Perlov, 21, was found near what is now the Stanford Dish hiking area in a remote area in 1973. Getreu is facing a first-degree murder charge in her death in Santa Clara County.
San Mateo County Sheriff Detective Gordon Currie testified that he obtained 10 volumes of court documents related to Getreu's 1964 conviction in Margaret Williams' murder and rape. Deputy District Attorney Josh Stauffer read excerpts from the more than 1,000 pages of court documents. Getreu, who was 18 years old at the time of the killing, was convicted on July 13, 1964, to 10 years in prison for rape with fatal consequences. He served a partial sentence of five years and nine months. German officials believed he was likely to lead a "righteous life" after he was sent to live with his parents in the U.S., where he returned in 1969 under probation supervision, according to the German court documents.
Getreu, in his own statement to German investigators, said he and Williams met at a dance. He hadn't seen the girl before but noticed her when she exited a car. They went for a walk and talked.
He said he had no special intention. Williams told him she had to be home at a specific time, but rather than walk toward the school and her home, they headed in the opposite direction. They sat on a bench in a park and later walked to a playground. He said he wanted to be alone with her; they walked away from where people were nearby.
Getreu claimed he didn't intend to have intercourse with her; he was looking for a good place where he had taken other girls before for "smooching."
Getreu and Williams began kissing while sitting on his jacket and soon they were lying down. He engaged in light petting and soon began to advance to wanting intercourse. He told her that he had consumed "a lot of drinks." She was nervous and distressed and wanted to go home. It began to rain, and she said that was why she wanted to leave. "She did not react positively" to his advances, according to the police investigation. He said as his excitement had increased, he wanted to rape her.
Williams began talking loudly to try to attract attention. Getreu gave her a judo chop in the neck so she couldn't talk anymore, he said. Williams started to weep, and he "gave her a blow in the face" with his fist because he thought when she regained her voice, she would only cry louder. The only reason he struck her was to prevent her from talking, he said.
Williams, who had been standing up to leave, fell to the ground after Getreu struck her. She was about to cry out, so he covered her face with his jacket and held fast over her mouth with both hands. As Williams began to kick and tried to scream, he held her mouth shut with one hand and grabbed her by the throat with the other, he told police.
Williams lost consciousness, but Getreu had the impression she was still breathing. She didn't move at all and he raped her. He kept his hand over her mouth to keep her from crying out if she regained consciousness, he said.
As car headlights passed nearby, he grabbed his jacket and ran away. After returning home, he took his dog for a walk and returned to the area to see if she was still alive. Margaret Williams never regained consciousness. She died on the playing field, police said.
Outside the courtroom, Evan Williams said there were new aspects to the crime he hadn't heard before.
"I feel glad that there's the potential to convict someone who needs to be convicted. I feel a connection to others" who have lost loved ones to murder, he said.
Getreu's first wife, Susan Cammarota, testified that he told her before they were married that he had killed a girl in Germany. She also said he was convicted of statutory rape after initially being charged with raping a teenage girl who was a member of his Explorer Scout troop in 1975. (The victim testified in court last week.) He served his jail sentence on weekends, she said.
Getreu also regularly traveled along the route where Taylor was found, according to testimony from his stepdaughter.
Kathi Stone, Cammarota's daughter, testified that she first met Getreu when she was 6 years old. The family lived in various locations along the Midpeninsula. They lived about two years on Montrose Avenue in Palo Alto, then moved to Redwood City for another two years before moving back to an apartment in Palo Alto. They also lived in Woodside.
While living at an aunt's house on Roberta Drive in Woodside, a quiet area of trees and grasslands, Getreu would drive her to school daily. To get to Roberta Drive, one travels on Mountain Home Road, which connects up with Sand Hill Road, west of Searsville Lake.
Currie pointed to a map during his testimony. A green square depicted where Taylor's body was found on Sand Hill Road near Manzanita Way, the route Getreu would have taken daily to go home.
How far is the location from Sand Hill and Manzanita from Roberta Drive? Stauffer asked.
"About 2 miles," Currie said. The time to travel from the scene of Taylor's murder to Roberta Drive takes about six minutes, he said.