Skip to content
Suspected ‘Stanford Murder’ Serial Killer Convicted of Murder in 1974 Closed Case

John Getreu was on trial for the murder of student Janet Taylor.

Forty-eight years after the initial crime, it took just over an hour on Tuesday for a jury in San Mateo County, Calif., To convict John Arthur Getreu of the murder of 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor.

Taylor, a sophomore college student, was the youngest daughter of legendary Stanford University football coach Chuck Taylor. She had been beaten, strangled and left on the side of the road near the Stanford campus, authorities said. His body was discovered by a truck driver on March 24, 1974.

Getreu, 77, was working at Stanford at the time of his murder. He was also charged with the 1973 murder of Stanford graduate Leslie Perlov and will stand trial next year. He has pleaded not guilty in this case.

Watch the full story on “20/20” FRIDAY at 9 p.m. ET on ABC

Cold Case detectives used genetic genealogy to identify Getreu in what prosecutor Josh Stauffer described as a sexually motivated crime in Taylor’s Strangulation.

He told jurors that Getreu was a man who lived two lives as a Boy Scout leader and family man in Palo Alto, Calif., But also a predator and a previously convicted rapist and murderer.

In his closing statements, Stauffer referred to Getreu’s two previous known victims: Diane Doe, a 17-year-old rape victim, and 15-year-old Margaret Williams, who Getreu killed in 1963 while living in Germany.

The prosecutor told the jury that all of the cases and the victims were surprisingly similar to Taylor.

“He took her away with the intention of raping her. He attacked her. Torn his clothes. Hit her in the face. Repeated punches to the face. He strangled her, ”said Stauffer.

Getreu’s conviction marked the end of Taylor’s decades-old cold affair, in which advances in DNA technology played a pivotal role.

Getreu’s defense attorney John Halley could not be reached for comment on the guilty verdict.

In his closing statements, Halley claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove Getreu’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Diane Perlov, Leslie Perlov’s younger sister who came from Los Angeles to monitor the trial, had just stepped out of the courthouse when she was told the jury had returned a verdict.

“As these promising lives are gone forever, thanks to the hard work of detectives and advances in forensic science, I have hope that future lives will be saved and other predators will be held responsible.” , she said.

Outside the courthouse, she hugged Santa Clara’s cold affairs detective, Staff Sgt. Noe Cortez, who had gathered crucial evidence in this case.

“This is not the end,” Perlov said. “We’re moving forward. I want a lawsuit for my sister’s case. I don’t want offers. There were some really horrible pictures of what Getreu did to Janet … and I want everyone to see them. so that they understand how dangerous he is. “

Called to comment on today’s verdict, Getreu’s only son Aaron Getreu asked to convey his condolences to Taylor’s family and all of his father’s victims.

“My family had no idea of ​​my father’s past and only sympathizes with all of his victims,” ​​he said. “We only knew him as a loving father and grandfather, but science doesn’t lie. With that belief, I hope these families can now close down.”

Grace Kahng is an investigative journalist, Emmy-winning documentary maker and director of “The Stanford Murders”.