Police: DNA test solves Palo Alto cold case killing

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SAN FRANCISCO — A suspect was arrested in a March 1974 killing in California after investigators used the same advanced DNA testing that helped crack the Golden State Killer case, authorities said Thursday.

John Arthur Getreu, 75, was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting and strangling 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office announced.

Taylor was last seen alive attempting to hitchhike from Palo Alto to her home in nearby La Honda. Her body was found along a busy street.

Getreu was already in custody in Santa Clara County after being charged last year with sexually assaulting and strangling Leslie Perlov, another 21-year-old woman, in 1973.

Investigators previously believed the killings of Perlov and Taylor were connected. But their cases had gone unsolved until DNA testing evolved enough to deliver credible results from the degraded DNA collected at both killing scenes.

Authorities in both counties submitted DNA samples to the same publicly available DNA database used to identify Joseph DeAngelo, who authorities believe is the Golden State Killer.

Getreu was linked to both killings after the testing connected him to both crime scenes, investigators said.

In the Golden State Killer case, investigators used DNA from the attacks to locate a relative of DeAngelo then turned to traditional techniques to find the suspect.

Authorities have linked the Golden State Killer to 13 attacks of women throughout California between 1974 and 1986.

"Law enforcement is not giving up on victims," Assistant San Mateo County Sheriff Gregory Rothaus said at a news conference on Getreu in Redwood City. "We have new DNA technology that is a great tool for us."

Santa Clara County court records show Getreau is represented by the county's public defender's office, which didn't return a call.

Getreau has not yet been appointed a lawyer in San Mateo County.

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