Hike sentence

John Getreu sentenced to life for 1974 murder | News

Calling the series of strangulation murders and sexual assaults of John Arthur Getreu “evil and despicable crimes”, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles sentenced the 77-year-old to prison to life and fined $5,000 on Friday for killing Janet Ann Taylor 47 years ago.

“Words cannot begin to express my grief in this matter,” Foiles said.

He wished Taylor’s parents were alive to see the man who killed their daughter brought to justice and hoped that all families and surviving victims would take comfort in knowing that Getreu would spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury found Getreu, a Hayward resident, guilty of first degree murder and causing grievous bodily harm on September 14 after an hour of deliberation. His trial lasted 18 days. He murdered 21-year-old Taylor on March 24, 1974, as she was hitchhiking home from visiting a friend. Her body was found in a ditch on Sand Hill Road near Manzanita Way. La Honda’s wife had been strangled, beaten and sexually assaulted.

Witnesses including his family, an ex-wife, the family of another murder victim and another victim who survived a Getreu assault testified at his trial.

Getreu had previously been convicted and imprisoned in Germany at the age of 18 for the 1963 strangulation, beating and rape of 15-year-old Margaret Williams. His father, an army chaplain, and his father, also an army officer, served at a base in Bad Kreuznach.

Getreu spent more than six years of a 10-year sentence – the maximum allowed at the time in Germany – behind bars before returning to his family in the United States. But his penchant for sexually assaulting and strangling attractive dark-haired young women apparently continued.

In 1975, he entered a plea deal for a lesser charge, statutory rape, after being accused of forcibly raping a Palo Alto teenager who was part of his Explorer Scout troop. She testified during the Taylor case that he also strangled her and threatened to kill her if she did not submit to his assault. His daughter-in-law and an ex-wife also testified that he sexually abused the girl for years during her childhood.

On February 16, 1973, Leslie Marie Perlov, also 21, was found strangled in a remote area near what is now the Stanford Dish hiking trail, which is not far from where the body was. de Taylor was found 13 months later. Getreu has been charged with Perlov’s murder, but has not yet been tried.

However, Getreu was not on anyone’s suspect list. Although California had the first mandatory sex offender registry law in the country, dating back to 1947, mandatory federal sex offender registration that could link crimes committed in other states was not enacted until in 1994. The National Sex Offender Registry database, which is used by law enforcement, was not established until 1996, two decades after Getreu’s crime in Germany and his sentence to Palo Alto.

It took nearly 50 years before modern DNA testing linked him to the Taylor and Perlov murders. (Getreu still faces a trial in Santa Clara County for Perlov’s death.)

On Friday morning, Getreu sat motionless in his wheelchair outside court, dressed in a red prison jumpsuit. A pair of headphones were strapped over his ears so that Getreu, who is hard of hearing, could listen to the court proceedings.

He remained alert, appearing neither to doze off during testimony nor to wake up with interest when photographs of his dead victims were shown on a screen, as he had during his trial.

He did not turn his head to recognize his only son, the only member of his family who witnessed the trial and his sentencing. He didn’t look at Taylor’s friend James Schroeder when Schroeder made an impact statement in court. During the trial, Getreu stared intently at Schroeder and Taylor’s boyfriend, Russell Bissonnette, during their testimony.

Schroeder and Bissonette, who was also present at the sentencing, were fast friends who met while students at Cañada College. Taylor was “a quiet force of nature”; a serious student; and a wonderful, beautiful, well-spoken, kind, nature-loving person, he said.

Shortly before his death, Schroeder took photos of Taylor leaning against his favorite car, he recalled. “I’m so glad to have the pictures,” he told the court.

The photographs reminded him of Taylor’s vibrant life, a life lost before anyone knew of her promise and what she would bring to the world, he said.

Images are grainy, he noted. It took a few years before he got the film developed.

“It was a simple thing that got lost in the wake of Janet’s murder,” he said.

Schroeder said he was happy to have been able to testify at the trial. He is sorry for the raped and strangled Explorer Scout Getreu and for the deaths of Margaret Williams, Perlov and Taylor and the pain their families and friends have suffered.

Schroeder said he wished Getreu had faced the death penalty. Still, Getreu “will get the justice he deserves today”, he said of the life sentence.

San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Josh Stauffer read additional impact statements from the court filing. He asked the court to add the statements to Getreu’s probation file for review if he ever shows up for a parole hearing. Judge Foiles admitted the documents.

In a moving statement read by Stauffer, Perlov’s sister, Diane, noted that she was still traumatized by her brother’s death. She doesn’t like tight clothes around her neck, and she won’t go into a parking lot alone at night.

“The scarf wrapped around his neck was mine,” she said.

At fourteen months of age, Leslie was the older sister. She was his protector and his dear friend.

“Nobody made me laugh so much,” she said.

Families are affected for generations by the murder, she noted. It’s not just about lost memories, but about the theft of memories and experiences that can never be had. Diane’s son cherishes an oil painting of the aunt he never met and he named his daughter after Leslie, she said.

“I’m relieved that this convicted killer is no longer killing,” she said. She requested that Getreu be given no chance of parole to eliminate any chance of relief from his crimes.

Stauffer, in his final closing statement, also stressed the need for Getreu to remain imprisoned to reflect on his crimes.

“John Getreu is the definition of a serial killer. He deserves nothing less than to be alone, locked in a cell for the rest of his life; to be haunted by murders and rapes” he committed, he said.

Taylor’s family preferred to remain private. Stauffer said her sister thanked the court for the opportunity to view the trial privately from a live stream in the district attorney’s office. In a report filed in court, she described her sister as fun, pleasant, outgoing, talkative, intelligent, beautiful, strong, compassionate and well-rounded.

Stauffer also read a victim impact statement from the brother of Getreu’s first known victim, Margaret Williams. Evan Williams, who also testified at the trial, said he was 7 years old when his sister was murdered. Getreu could justify his murders in his mind, leaving their bodies “like garbage”, but he badly damaged other lives. Yet Getreu did not destroy them. “We lived and loved,” he said.

From the murder of his sister in 1963 to this day, Getreu has never shown remorse for his crimes, noted Evan Williams.

‘When you stood trial in 1964, you tried to blame and shame Margaret’ with ‘twisted lies’ during the trial, he said.

“You have shown no strength. You have shown weakness. You will try to hide in the darkness of your soul. Step into the light of truth. Arise and speak the truth,” he said. -he declares.

There is a glimmer of hope that Getreu may one day admit his crimes, Stauffer noted. On page four of the probation report, Getreu said he wanted to plead guilty to Perlov’s murder, Stauffer said. If he does, perhaps the families will begin to feel some end to the crimes of Getreu, he added.

Outside the courtroom, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Detective Gordon Currie said the most poignant moment for him during the sentencing came hearing the words of the victims’ families. He was struck by the effect of Getreu’s crimes on all families, including the killer’s.

For detectives, a murder and a lack of closure are also emotional and harsh. Currie thinks of the many investigators who worked on the Taylor case before him and the investigative leads they took that only led to dead ends. They didn’t have the DNA tools he had, he noted.

But Currie knows what it’s like to live and breathe a case for years in the hope of getting justice for a victim and their family, he said. At that point, when a longtime retired investigator receives a call that a case has been solved, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and closure, he said.

“It’s like we’re on a peaceful lake and Getreu is a speedboat that leaves long wakes in everyone’s life. … I’m glad it’s finally out of gas,” he said. he declares.

Getreu will appear in Santa Clara County Superior Court for a pre-trial in Perlov’s murder on Jan. 19.