Town Square

Post a New Topic

John Getreu receives life sentence for 1974 murder

Original post made on Nov 6, 2021

Calling the string of murders and sexual assaults John Arthur Getreu "evil and despicable crimes," San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles sentenced the 77-year-old man to life in prison on Friday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, November 6, 2021, 9:53 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

A life sentence doesn't mean much when he's 77 years old. He should've gotten the death penalty a long time ago.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 6, 2021 at 9:32 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

It is indeed tragic that DNA technology was decades away when Getreu committed these murders, but wishing for a death sentence imposed "a long time ago" is not only pointless but also suggests a thirst for revenge.

He has been brought to justice in this case and still awaits trial in the Perlov case. Furthermore, he will likely never murder again, given that his preferred victims will not be incarcerated within his reach. Moreover, taxpayers will not bear the cost of the death penalty process with its years of automatic appeals. Given the givens, this is a positive outcome for his victims and their families and friends. I am grateful.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2021 at 10:15 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

If you want to be a bleeding heart and coddle criminals, that's your prerogative. The rest of has have compassion for the victims (where the compassion belongs) and the death penalty is the only way to see that a criminal doesn't get paroled, regardless of age. He deserves the death penalty -- period. And so does ANY serial killer. Once again, he should've gotten the death penalty a long time ago.

He will likely never murder again? Give me a break. Hasn't he murdered enough already? If he murdered your family, would you ask the court for leniency?

And taxpayers pick up the tab regardless. He's too old to go through "years of automatic appeals." He's 77, not 35.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 7, 2021 at 7:30 am

vmshadle is a registered user.

I'm not sure how pointing out the facts that obtain in the present makes me "a bleeding heart [who] coddle[s] criminals" and who lacks compassion for the victims and their families, but I will grant you your anger.

My point is that we cannot change the facts that obtain in the present, nor can we change the facts of the past. He has stood trial and was convicted and will likely be convicted again in the second trial.

Please again consider reality before you accuse me of endorsing murder and being a fan of serial killers.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2021 at 7:47 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

I am considering reality. Californians voted to keep the death penalty, and our bleeding heart Governor overturned the will of the voters. He slapped the victim's families in the face. And anyone who doesn't believe in the death penalty (for the worst of the worst -- serial killers) IMO is showing compassion for the criminal, not the victims and the families. It's commonly known as a bleeding heart liberal. Life in prison (at age 77) when this happened in 1974 is hardly a "life sentence."

You're entitled to your opinion, and I'm entitled to mine. Agree to disagree, and hope this never happens to your family or friends. It shouldn't happen to anyone.


Posted by Carson Willoughby
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2021 at 11:40 am

Carson Willoughby is a registered user.

Concurring with Jennifer...this man had 45+ years of freedom despite committing two murders.

Now he can retire at a state penitentiary where he will be well cared for with food, shelter, and medical care at taxpayer's expense.

If these crimes occurred in Texas, the wait list for execution would be very brief.

There are two possible alternatives to achieving true justice in these cases:

(1) Allow the family victims to determine the guilty parties fate, either execution or life imprisonment, OR
(2) Create an intrastate program where convicted CA death row inmates are extradited to Texas for final resolution.

Governor Gavin Newsom had no legal right or reason to dismiss the will of majority CA voters who endorse the death penalty for convicted murderers.

@vmshadle...compassion and forgiveness have their place but in many/certain instances, society is better served if state-sanctioned execution is the final resolution.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 7, 2021 at 12:16 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

You are indeed entitled to your beliefs as I am entitled to mine. That said, I refute your notion that my moral opposition to state-sponsored killing equates to an absolute lack of compassion for victims and families. However much you want to project that on me, it is completely untrue.

I believe that capital punishment represents revenge and not justice in this and in every other case. I am morally opposed to paying for the state to kill in my name. I believe instead in life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Living out one's natural life span behind bars seems like sufficient punishment to me.

You are free to espouse your own point of view, but please stop with the name-calling and character assassination. Take up your anger issues with a professional therapist. I am not the cause, nor should I be your target.


Posted by Phyliss Templeton
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Phyliss Templeton is a registered user.

State sanctioned executions offer closure for many family victims and should be exercised with discretion.

The heinousness and callousness of a murder should also be taken into consideration with life imprisonment remaining an option in certain cases.

quote: "I believe that capital punishment represents revenge and not justice in this and in every other case."

^ This is too broad of an excuse for not executing certain individuals who did not demonstarte any compassion towards their victims.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2021 at 2:43 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

You attacked my opinion, not the other way around. I was the first to post. My opinion is also very common. The death penalty does provide closure for families, even those who aren't always in favor of the death penalty. He sexually assaulted and murdered women. He's a serial killer, and this happened in 1974. He's lived his life outside of prison, and his victims died. If you can't handle the opinions of someone you disagree with, that's your anger issue. You tried to push your views on me. The death penalty isn't pointless... in the opinion of a lot of us. It's in place to keep someone from being paroled. If you don't want your views challenged while challenging someone else's comment online -- that's not the way it works. Revenge is an excuse, and an excuse that's not commonly held. Especially when discussing serial killers. And Newsom had no right is correct. Why do we bother to vote? Lastly, the death penalty was mentioned in the article. I was agreeing with Schroeder.


Posted by Faith
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2021 at 3:40 pm

Faith is a registered user.

The murder occurred in 1974 and the death penalty wasn't in effect at that time, so it was never an option in this case regardless of the moratorium by Governor Newsom. Therefore it is pointless to argue about it, in my opinion.

In regards to Getreu, it is probable he has many more victims. I would like him to be alive so he can be held accountable and face punishment for all of them. Death would be an easy escape that he doesn't deserve.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2021 at 5:38 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

There was a moratorium from 1972-1976 in the US, but it wasn't abolished. Several states have abolished the death penalty in their own state, but California isn't one of them. The death penalty is still legal in California, even though Newsom issued a moratorium in 2019.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 8, 2021 at 8:13 am

vmshadle is a registered user.

"You attacked my opinion, not the other way around. I was the first to post."

Jennifer, I do not have anger issues. I believe you projected your anger onto me. Furthermore, I did not "attack" your opinion, nor did I push my views on you as you claim above. In my initial post, I merely pointed out that it regrettably could not be helped that decades had gone by since he murdered those women and so forth.

Yes, you were the first to post, but that does not mean that I am not allowed to disagree with you. You construed disagreement and presenting another point of view as a personal attack.

The fact that your opinion "is very common" does not mean that you get to dictate everyone else's opinion because your position is the one true and only acceptable one. I disagreed with you respectfully without calling you names and casting aspersions on your morality as you did to me.

Furthermore, the death penalty is not the only way to exclude the possibility of parole. Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (which I have clearly advocated above) by definition excludes the possibility of parole.

Please see Phyliss Templeton's post above. She agrees with your position on the death penalty, but she does so respectfully without the massive defensiveness and name-calling that you directed at me.


Posted by NanaDi
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2021 at 10:43 am

NanaDi is a registered user.

@vmshadle: BRAVO for your well-considered and well-stated comments. While I could certainly understand desire for revenge in the form of the death penalty on the part of the families of the victims of this piece of scum, I think our society needs more cool heads such as you and Judge Foiles display in meting out Justice, if it is to remain a civilized society.


Posted by valorie25
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2021 at 10:51 am

valorie25 is a registered user.

I agree with @vmshadle. Let him rot in his wheel chair in prison and be bored to death. The death penalty is the easier way out. He would die before the extremely expensive appeals even began. No parole board in their right mind would let him go free. Thank God for DNA testing!!! What really bothers me is the fact that he sexually molested his stepdaughter for years. WHY, OH WHY, didn't someone come forward then????


Posted by Ariel Fine
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 8, 2021 at 11:50 am

Ariel Fine is a registered user.

As a person of Jewish descent with European ancestors who perished during the Holocaust, I have no problems with executing those responsible for detestable and inhumane actions against humanity as a whole.

Many Nazi war criminals were either hung or received execution via firing squad upon conviction and this was the right thing to do in lieu of any lifetime imprisonment options. And the same measure was applied to many Imperial Japanese war criminals.

People must be held accountable for their actions and a sign of a civilized society is one that either eliminates or executes the guilty based on their societal indiscretions.

And for those who emphasize that this elderly individual will spend his remaining years in a remorseful manner, dream on.

What if he eventually comes down with dementia or Alzheimer's and has no clue of what he did?

It is far better to eradicate (aka execute) these individuals while they are still cognizant of their actions.






Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 8, 2021 at 1:10 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Thank you, NanaDi and valorie25. I understand that, for some people, they feel that the convict should suffer as much as the victims did.

My opposition to the death penalty developed after years and years of personal deliberation. However, because it goes on for decades and is hugely expensive, because it has been applied so unevenly in so many jurisdictions, because people of color are executed at rates far exceeding their numerical presence in the population, because too many innocent people have been wrongly executed, . . . to me even one wrongly executed person makes it immoral. I am also satisfied that a full natural life behind bars is sufficient punishment.

Each of us brings our own religious and moral beliefs, our life experiences, our own interactions with murder (God forbid). In a perfect world, we wouldn't have the need to execute anyone, but here we are.

And so we continue to wrestle with the presence of serial killers in our midst and how to deal with the endless ruining of lives they spawn. We may differ as to how we as a society want to deal with the results, but that's life in a democracy where we are free to argue and debate such matters.

Thank you both for expressing your support.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 8, 2021 at 1:21 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Carson Willoughby, I must point out the following:

Your first solution is pure vigilantism. Our country, despite recent behavior to the contrary, is supposed to be "a nation of laws, not 'men,'" as the saying goes. The Judicial Branch of the federal government exists for a reason, and that reason is stated in the U. S. Constitution.

Your second solution, "Create an intrastate program where convicted CA death row inmates are extradited to Texas for final resolution," echoes the Nazi "Final Solution," rounding up Jews and "extraditing" them to concentration camps for extermination. As a Jew, I respectfully ask that you consider the problems with your proposed scenario and leave the administration of justice to the criminal courts system instead.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2021 at 10:14 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole does exclude the possibility of parole (by definition) but sadly, inmates are accidentally released. Whether by data entry error or common surname, etc. it happens. Did it ever happen on death row?


Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 10, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Anneke is a registered user.

I wonder if this man had anything to do with the disappearance of Ylva Annika Hagner.


Posted by Lillian Davis
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 10, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Lillian Davis is a registered user.

Public execution does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment providing it is conducted quickly, cleanly, and humanely as possible.

Throughout the history of mankind, this measure has been used to rid society of convicted murderers and it is very effective towards creating closure.

Given the overall heinousness and callousness of countless murderous crimes, death by hanging, firing squad, electric chair, the gas chamber, and lethal injection are far more humane measures than what many convicted killers offered their victims.

It is also interesting to note that the majority of anti-death penalty advocates have never endured the emotional pain & loss that many family victims have suffered.

The death penalty was reinstated by CA voters and Gavin Newsom had no right to overturn the will of the people.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

The Economics of Residential Rooftop Solar
By Sherry Listgarten | 60 comments | 6,765 views

Why Give Up Delicious Things?
By Laura Stec | 23 comments | 2,767 views

Business tax in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 5 comments | 2,322 views

Is Watching Porn Considered to be Cheating?
By Chandrama Anderson | 6 comments | 1,557 views

Sutter andPAMF --protect your patients from coronavirus -- not just your employees
By Diana Diamond | 5 comments | 1,449 views