Serial killer convicted of Bay Area murders in 1970s dead at 79

Dan Ashley Image
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Serial killer convicted of Bay Area murders in 1970s dies
Notorious Bay Area rapist and killer John Arthur Getreu, 79, died in a Stockton, California prison.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A notorious Bay Area serial rapist and killer, who avoided capture for decades, has died in prison.

John Arthur Getreu was convicted of the murders of three people -- a high school sophomore in Germany who was raped, and strangled two young women with connections to Stanford.

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

Getreu served only six years for the murder of a high school girl at an U.S army base in Germany.

He was released in 1969 and came to California where he continued to kill.

For more than 40 years, he escaped justice until police linked him to the murders at Stanford using DNA evidence.

He was arrested in November 2018 at his home in Hayward for the 1973 murder Leslie Perlov, a Stanford graduate.

Getreu was convicted a year later in 2019 for the 1974 murder of Janet Taylor, the daughter of the Stanford athletic director and Hall of Fame football coach Chuck Taylor.

RELATED: 'I am so in shock': Hayward neighbors say cold case suspect mostly quiet

Residents of Hayward's Fairway Park neighborhood had no idea a man at the center of a 45-year-old-cold case murder was living among them.

ABC7's Dan Ashley spoke with investigative journalist Grace Kahng on Monday who has covered the case extensively over the years.

Dan Ashley: "Grace, in all of your years reporting this story, you have long been convinced that Getreu was responsible for other killings as well. But we may never know with his death."

Grace Kahng: "And that is incredibly vexing. But hopefully, with the advances in DNA and we have a dozen other cases that we believe he is responsible for, working hand in glove with the serial killer's son, who is a very moral guy. Hopefully, we will find an answer and we close some of these cases. And we're very, very close."

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

Janet Taylor is pictured, left, next to suspect John Arthur Getreu from Hayward, Calif., right.

Convicted killer John Arthur Getreu died Sept. 22 at the state prison in Stockton at the age of 79.

You can learn more about "The Stanford Murders" in Grace Kahng's documentary here.

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