Man pleads guilty to 1973 murder of Stanford law librarian
“I didn’t want her to be mute and invisible,” she said.
John Getreau Credit… Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office via The Associated Press
Mr. Getreau, whom authorities now refer to as a serial killer, eluded authorities for decades because the DNA-evidence technology used to identify potential suspects was not as advanced as it was in Santa said Michelle Amaral, a deputy district attorney with the Clara District Attorney’s Office.
An attorney for Mr. Getreau, Matt Wilson, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday night.
Mr. Amaral said that when Noe Cortez, a detective with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, re-examined the evidence in 2016, he saw that there was a significant chance of making a breakthrough.
The attack on him in the desolate woods was brutal, Mr. Cortez determined from the evidence. Maybe she scratched the attacker and fought back? Could it be that under her fingernail, which had been preserved as evidence, was leftover DNA from the person who killed her?
“He fought really hard for his life,” said his sister.
Mr. Cortez submitted the DNA collected from the nail clippings to the laboratory and tested his theory. They got a list of people linked to that DNA. One stuck, Mr. Amaral said: Mr. Getreau, who investigators learned, was convicted of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl in Germany in 1964. Mr Amaral said he was tried as a minor, served a brief sentence and then moved back to the United States.
In 2018, after DNA analysis, Mr. Getreau became a prime suspect. That year, detectives were tracking Mr. Getreau and spotted him at a pharmacy in Union City, California, about 16 miles northeast of Stanford University, sipping Starbucks cups. Mr. Amaral said that after throwing the cup away, investigators retrieved it and used it to collect his DNA. Later, they found that DNA collected from the fingernail matched that of the cup, Mr. Amaral said.