Stanford serial killer pleads guilty to killing librarian

2 mins read

A serial killer at Stanford University in the 1970s pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murdering the university’s law librarian. 

Leslie Perlov, 21, was found deceased in hills that overlook Stanford’s campus on February 16, 1973. A floral scarf was knotted around her neck and was used to strangle her to death. 

The homicide investigation for Perlov’s killer went cold for 45 years until a criminalist with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office matched DNA found under Perlov’s fingernails to John Arthur Getreu. 

He was formally charged with Perlov’s murder in 2018. 

“Justice for Leslie Perlov and her loved ones took a very long time, but it has arrived,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “This serial rapist and murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

“Getreu is believed to have committed a string of sexual assaults and at least three slayings, two part of a pattern in the 1970s commonly known as ‘The Stanford murders,’” prosecutors wrote.

Getreu lived near Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto during the time of the killings.

He was also charged with the murder of 21-year-old Janet Taylor, who was found deceased via strangulation, just a few months after Perlov’s murder. 

After murdering Perlov and Taylor, Getreu raped a 17-year-old Palo Alto girl inside her home in 1975. According to The Almanac, “Diane Doe” testified that Getreu strangled her and threatened to kill her if she cried out for help.

Once Getreu is sentenced on April 26 for Perlov’s murder, he will spend the rest of his life in prison, prosecutors said.

State prison inmate records say that Getreu is now 78 years old and incarcerated in California Health Care Facility Stockton with nearly 3,000 other inmates. The facility’s website states, “CHCF provides mental health treatment to inmates who have the most severe and long term needs. This facility provides both outpatient and inpatient mental health services for patients with a serious mental disorder.”

Inmate records do not indicate what type of mental health disorder Getreu is being treated for.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.

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