Hayward man arrested for 1974 cold case murder already in custody for other homicide

SAN MATEO CO., Calif. (KGO) -- San Mateo County authorities arrested 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu for the 1974 cold case murder of 21-year-old college student Janet Taylor.

Police say they believe the suspect is responsible for multiple murders.

RELATED: Santa Clara County sheriff's detectives arrest suspect in 1973 cold case murder of Leslie Perlov

In March 1974, Taylor was hitchhiking to her home in La Honda from a friend's house in Palo Alto. This was the last time she was seen alive.

The next day, on March 25, a delivery driver was making his way along Sand Hill Road, west of I-280, and saw the body of a young female on the side of the highway. The San Mateo County Coroner's Office determined it was a homicide by strangulation and identified the victim as Taylor.

While the coroner concluded that Taylor was not raped, police say evidence clearly indicated that there was a sexual motivation for the crime.

Police believed the murder of Taylor was potentially connected to the slaying of 21-year-old Leslie Purlov in Santa Clara County the year before. The suspect's MOs were very similar and both victims were last seen leaving the Stanford campus area before their murders.

For many years, both killings remained unsolved.



In 2017, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office cold case investigators re initiated the investigation into Taylor's murder and began working with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

Evidence was submitted for DNA analysis by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office from an unknown male profile.

Investigators determined DNA belonged to 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu of Hayward. On November 20, 2018, officials arrested him for the murder of Purlov.

He remains in custody without bail.

After the suspect in the Santa Clara County case, San Mateo County investigators submitted additional evidence to the crime lab, and they were able to find male DNA profile in clothing worn by Taylor, which was a match for Getreu.

RELATED: Man kills self as deputies try to serve warrant in brutal 1974 Stanford murder

The suspect, in addition to being a suspect in two cold homicides on the Peninsula, was put on trial for rape resulting in the death of a 16-year-old girl in Germany when he was 18 years old.

He was also convicted of raping a woman in Santa Clara County in 1975.

Police say Getrue's records are old or incomplete so they are still researching his past.

Getreu is currently in custody in San Mateo County Jail and will be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

After his arraignment, he will be returned to Santa Clara County Jail and face charges in that county first.

Statement from family of Janet Taylor:

"Janet lived life with enthusiasm and courage. As a spunky, fun-loving youngest of three children, she added much laughter and joy to our family. She loved animals and cherished her friends. We have missed being able to have her in our lives. Janet's future was bright. It would have been wonderful to see what she would have done. We can't ever know all that we missed, but whatever she pursued, Janet would have served others with passion and kindness. We're grateful today for the diligent, meticulous work of the law enforcement officers whose efforts have resulted in today's announcement. They've done this difficult work with integrity and excellence, and with compassion for our family."

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