The man who murdered the daughter of former athletic director and football coach Chuck Taylor was identified on Thursday as Hayward resident John Arthur Getreu in the conclusion of a decades-old cold case. Getreu, a suspected serial killer, told police that during the time of two local women’s murders in the 1970s, he was working in the University’s heart transplant unit as a medical technician.
Janet Ann Taylor was hitchhiking from a friend’s in Palo Alto to her home in La Honda on March 25, 1974 when she disappeared. She was discovered the next day in a ditch by a delivery driver on Sand Hill Road, west of Interstate 280. She was 21.
“Janet lived life with enthusiasm and courage,” her family wrote in a statement released by the San Mateo County sheriff’s office. “Janet’s future was bright. It would have been wonderful to see what she would have done.”
Thought to have been strangled using her own turtleneck sweater, Taylor was also likely the victim of a sexually motivated crime, according to San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office news release. The coroner’s investigation did not conclude that a rape occurred, however. Taylor was discovered fully clothed aside from her shoes and purse.
Getreu has been held in custody since he was arrested in November 2018 for the gruesome cold case murder of Stanford graduate and aspiring law student Leslie Marie Perlov ’72. Perlov was found dead under an oak tree west of campus near Page Mill Road after having been strangled and sexually assaulted.
After remaining dormant for 45 years, the case resurfaced when detectives submitted an unknown male DNA profile for testing at Virginia-based DNA phenotyping company Parabon NanoLabs. With the help of advanced DNA testing, a publicly available DNA database and genealogical mapping, Getreu was linked to and later charged in Perlov’s murder.
According to the sheriff’s office, Getreu had a history of violence towards women. At 18 years old, he spent time in a German prison in 1964 for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl. He was also convicted for the rape of a Santa Clara County woman in 1975, for which he was sentenced to six months in prison.
Investigators had suspected that Perlov and Taylor’s murders were connected, and after identifying Getreu’s DNA in connection with the Santa Clara County case, investigators submitted additional items to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office crime lab, where they were able to find male DNA profile — consistent with Getreu’s — on Janet Taylor’s clothing.
As of Thursday morning, Getreu is being held without bail. He was transported from Santa Clara County Jail to San Mateo County Jail for an arraignment initially scheduled for Thursday afternoon. In his court appearance in San Mateo, Getreu did not enter a plea. His arraignment was rescheduled for May 30.
Contact Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu.