Murderer from 1970s refuses to attend parole hearing

In 1974, he kidnapped a woman from the Stanford Shopping Center

March 14, 2024, 1:16 a.m.

Burlingame resident John Warren Kreuter, convicted for the 1974 kidnapping, rape and murder of Palo Alto resident Liana Linda Hughes, refused to attend his parole hearing at the San Quentin State Prison this week.  

Kreuter has been determined unfit for parole 18 times since being convicted 50 years ago and this week’s hearing would have been his 19th.  During his first parole hearing in 1980, he admitted to his crimes, — a contrast to his denial of the accusations during his trial in the summer of 1974 following his arrest in February of the same year. His next parole hearing will be next year in 2025. 

On Jan. 29, 1974, 30-year old Hughes went missing from the Stanford Shopping Center. On Feb. 3,  her body was found in her motorhome parked in a Burlingame municipal parking lot. Autopsy results revealed fatal doses of the poison strychnine in her body, possibly dissolved in an alcoholic drink she consumed, according to a Daily article published at the time. Kreuter was convicted because of a bottle of strychnine found in his room and a right palm print found in the motor home that matched his hand. 

Because the case was classified as a first-degree murder, after 12 hours of deliberation over a period of three days in July 1974, a jury sentenced Kreuter to death in accordance with California law at the time. 

Kreuter was the second criminal to be convicted under a 1972 law which made the death sentence mandatory for “murders, robberies or kidnappings,” according to a Sept. 1974 Daily article

Kreuter’s death sentence, along with others sentenced under the same law, was changed to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

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