It took 50 years, but detectives in California's Santa Clara County are finally able to close the books on a brutal 1973 sexual assault and murder. John Getreu, a 78-year-old described by authorities as a serial killer, pleaded guilty last week to killing 21-year-old Nancy Perlov, a law librarian at Stanford, reports the New York Times. Last year, Getreu was sentenced to life in prison for the 1974 murder of 21-year-old Janet Ann Taylor, daughter of a Stanford coach, and he faces another life sentence in Perlov's death. Both cases remained unsolved for decades, but detectives were able to reassess old DNA evidence to zero in on Getreu as a suspect.
"It was only because she fought so desperately that she had the evidence underneath her fingernails," says younger sister Diane Perlov, per the San Jose Mercury News. "It was an incredibly brutal murder and sexual assault." Before the two California murders, Getreu had been convicted of raping and killing a teenage girl in Germany while he was a teen himself. (Both their parents were in the US military and stationed there.) He was given a short sentence as a minor and returned to the US. In 1975, he also was convicted of raping an underage girl in Palo Alto, where he worked as a security guard. (Read more cold cases stories.)