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DNA leads to arrest in decades-old California homicide

Northern California authorities say they have cracked a 45-year-old homicide case using the same publicly available DNA database investigators accessed to arrest alleged serial killer Joseph DeAngelo.

Investigators went through same database used to catch suspected Golden Gate Killer

Officers arrested 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu on suspicion of killing 21-year-old Leslie Perlov in 1973. (Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office )

Northern California authorities say they have cracked a 45-year-old homicide case using the same publicly available DNA database investigators accessed to arrest alleged Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo.

The Santa Clara County sheriff's department said Wednesday that officers arrested 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu on suspicion of killing 21-year-old Leslie Perlov in 1973.

Perlov's body was found under an oak tree near Stanford University and her panty hose were stuffed in her mouth. She had been strangled and the case went unsolved for decades.

Perlov was killed in 1973. She was strangled, and her body was found near Stanford University. (Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)

Investigators taking another look at the case in July found an unknown man's DNA among the evidence.

They were led to Getreu after they submitted the evidence to the Virginia-based DNA technology company Parabon NanoLab, which uses the public genealogical database GEDmatch to generate a number of family trees connected to the sample.

Two scientists launched the database in 2010 to help amateur and professional genealogical researchers. The database doesn't collect DNA samples directly. Instead it aggregates results from commercial sites like 23andMe submitted by users. Researchers upload their DNA samples to GEDmatch in search of matches, which usually comes in the form of several family trees rather than one individual.

A growing number of investigators across the country are turning to GEDmatch for help after the FBI's national DNA database fails to find a match. DeAngelo was the first suspect arrested using the company's database in September. DeAngelo has been charged with raping and killing 13 women decades ago.

Police arrested Getreu on Tuesday at his Hayward, Calif., home about 50 kilometres southeast of San Francisco.

He is being held in the Santa Clara County jail with no bail. Jail records don't indicate if he's represented by an attorney.

Joseph James DeAngelo was also arrested using a publicly accessible DNA databank. He was eventually charged with 13 murders. (Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee via Associated Press)

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