Professor’s Murderer, Still Unrepentant, Is Free Man

Times Staff Writer

After serving seven years and 20 days for the 1978 murder of a Stanford University mathematics professor, Theodore Streleski, 49, walked out of prison at 8 a.m. Sunday a free man, and immediately met with a swarm of reporters and photographers waiting for him at the prison gates.

Standing before television cameras in a misting rain, the unrepentant Streleski said: “I have no further business with Stanford. . . . I have no intention of killing again.”

But, as he has done so often in the past, he would not rule out the possibility that he might murder again: “I can’t predict the future. I murdered before.”


Streleski, a graduate student who had been working 19 years on a Ph.D. at the time of the killing, admitted bludgeoning Karel deLeeuw with a hammer, killing the math professor as he worked in his university office.

In a rambling and sometimes confusing discourse Sunday, Streleski repeated that he felt no remorse because remorse would undo the statement he was trying to make by killing DeLeeuw.

“I have murdered a professor at Stanford,” he said. “I have submitted it to a judge and a jury. I say Stanford treats students criminally.

“If I express remorse, I cut the ground out from under that argument. OK? I would not only be a murderer but a dirty, lying dog. I am a murderer. I am not a dirty, lying dog.”

The tall, gangling murderer, who has refused parole three times because he would not accept the conditions imposed, was released this time from the California medical facility at Vacaville “with no strings attached,” according to Department of Corrections spokesman Lt. Joe McGrath. Streleski had served his full eight-year sentence, less time off for good behavior, McGrath said.

Maximum Term

He had been sentenced to seven years for second-degree murder and another year for using a dangerous weapon--the hammer. It was the maximum term the judge could impose at the time, although the law has since been toughened.


Streleski said he plans to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and look for work in the electronics industry. He is a certified electrical engineer with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois.

With reporters and photographers elbowing each other and shouting two and three questions at a time, Streleski worked the press conference outside the prison fence like a veteran, fielding only those questions that he wanted to answer.

Murder Was a Protest

He said the murder still stands as his protest against the Stanford mathematics department Ph.D. program, which he contends somehow “cheats” students there.

“I judged correctly that the notoriety would bring press coverage. . . . I’m getting the message out there,” he told reporters. Streleski said he would “heed” warnings by Stanford University police to stay off the campus, but he said he would defy a similar warning to stay out of Santa Clara County, which includes Palo Alto, where Stanford is located. He said that someday he may go back to the Stanford campus, but that when he does he will let the media know in advance.

Marvin Herrington, Stanford campus police chief, said that if Streleski returns to the school, “we’re prepared to arrest him for trespassing.”

Plans Lawsuits

Streleski said he plans to file lawsuits in Solano County against prison and parole board officials, contending that they have “defamed” his character and violated his civil rights by “fabricating” statements about him and ordering him to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Streleski served some of his term in Folsom and Soledad prisons and was transferred to Vacaville about 18 months ago for psychiatric tests. However, he refused to cooperate with psychiatrists trying to do the exams. Otherwise prison officials said he was a model prisoner, staying to himself for the most part.

In March, 1984, when he was first eligible for parole, Streleski refused to comply with parole agents’ requirements that he stay away from the San Francisco Bay Area. At the time, parole officials wanted to place him in an Orange County halfway house.

Refused Condition

Three hours after his release on that occasion, he was re-incarcerated for failing to sign a statement agreeing to the parole conditions. Twice since then, he has been offered parole but refused to accept these conditions.

Streleski told reporters Sunday that he also plans to file suit in small claims court to recover $200 in “gate money” that prison officials should have given him when he was previously paroled even though they revoked that parole.

When he was driven out of the gates Sunday morning in a white prison sedan, reporters and photographers mobbed the car. He got out, with camera shutters clicking, and transferred four boxes of his personal possessions into a maroon sedan rented by the San Jose Mercury News.

After the press conference, which he terminated himself, he climbed into the sedan and was driven off to what he said would be a round of interviews and television appearances, including one on the “Today Show.”