The Unsolved Murder of Reet Jurvetson
Reet Jurvetson was a 19-year-old woman from Montreal, Canada. She was murdered on November 14, 1969, just outside of Los Angeles, California. For 46 years, her identity remained a mystery. In 2015, Jane Doe #59 was positively identified to be Ms. Jurvetson.
The 1969 Initial Discovery
On November 16, 1969, a fifteen-year-old boy had been birdwatching along Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, CA. This stretch of road was known for its sweeping views, wildlife, and as a popular walking route. Mulholland Drive travels around the edge of a 699-foot-deep ravine; between the roadside and the ravine drop was a swath of trees and bushes. The is where the body of a female was found; tangled in bushes around 15 feet down from the edge of the roadside.
The coroner determined the victim was female, 5’9″ tall, weighing 112 pounds, between the ages of 20 and 23 years old. She was Caucasian with green eyes and tinted brown hair. She was dressed in nice-styled clothes that were made in Canada and Spain. The victim was also wearing jewelry. Further examination revealed that she had vaccination scars on her upper left arm and left thigh, a quarter of an inch scar under her left breast, and a birthmark on her right buttock.
She had approximately 157 stab wounds to her neck, inflicted by a common penknife. This severed her carotid artery. The coroner also found defensive wounds on her body and determined she had been dead for about 24-48 before being found. Also, she had eaten a meal around 2 hours before her death. There was no evidence of a robbery or sexual assault. Her lab results came back, showing there were no drugs or alcohol in her system.
Investigators believed the murder took place at a different location and was transported while sitting upright in the back seat of a vehicle. She had scuff marks on the back of her shoes which suggested that she had been dragged from the vehicle to the side of the road, laid down, and pushed over the edge of the road embankment. The undergrowth prevented her from traveling further down into the ravine.
The 1969 Investigation
Investigators began looking at several avenues of thought. The area where the victim was found was within 5 miles where the Tate/LaBianca murders occurred, just a few short months prior. It was also not too far from the Spahn Ranch, which was where the Manson family compound was located. Through questioning Ruby Pearl, a caretaker at the Spahn Ranch, police discovered that there had been a young woman named Sherry, who looked remarkably like the victim. She had been at the Spahn Ranch shortly before this homicide. Investigators wondered if the victim had witnessed criminal activity and was murdered because of it. Investigators questioned Charles Manson before (and after) Reet was identified. He was cooperative and stated that he had no knowledge of her homicide and that she was not someone he recognized.
Another homicide had occurred around 11 months before Reet’s murder. It was the homicide of Marina Habe, 17, of Los Angeles, CA. She had been abducted on December 30, 1968, from her parent’s driveway. Her body had been found two days later, in the neighborhood of Mulholland Drive. There were certain similarities between the two women. Both women had been stabbed multiple times in the neck causing severing of the carotid artery of both women. Although their murders were remarkably the same, investigators have been unable to find enough undeniable evidence to link the two homicides.
The 2015 Rebirth of an Investigation
According to a news interview, in 2015 Detective Luis Rivera, Cold Case Division of the Los Angeles Police Dept. had been working on a case. While in the storage facility, he had mistakenly opened a cold case file box for a completely different case, that of Jane Doe #59. What surprised him was that in this particular box, on top of the filing paperwork, was a bloody bra. In 1969, when this homicide had occurred, it was common practice to dispose of physical evidence, once a case had remained cold. However, in this particular file box, physical DNA evidence had been placed in with the case files. This practice was nearly unheard of.
Upon re-discovery, investigators sent the bra into the lab for DNA testing and cataloged the case details with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
In June 2015, in Montreal, Canada, Anne Jurvetson, Reet’s older sister, was contacted by a family friend. The friend told Anne that she found a profile on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System that looked remarkably like Reet. Anne submitted her DNA sample for comparison. One year later, through DNA comparison, it was confirmed that the victim was Anne’s younger sister, Reet Jurvetson.
Discovering the story of Reet Jurvetson
According to news sources, Reet Jurvetson lived in Montreal, Canada. She was raised in a very close, tight-knit family with Estonian-Canadian heritage. While working at a post office, she had met a man named Jean (French pronunciation for John) at the neighboring Café, Image. People described him as a doppelgänger for Jim Morrison, who was the lead singer for the music group, The Doors. Reet was instantly smitten with him.
In 1969, Jean had traveled from Montreal to Los Angeles. He wanted to experience the grassroots movement that 1969 Southern California had become popular for. Within a few short weeks, after Jean had left, Reet followed him. She had also discussed continuing to Arizona because she had a brother that lived there.
According to her sister, Anne Jurvetson, Reet had initially decided to hitchhike to California from Montreal, Canada. In 1969, this was a common method of travel. After some coaxing, Reet decided to take a bus.
She arrived in Los Angeles without issue. Records show she was staying at the Paramount Hotel (demolished in 1989) with 2 men, who were both named Jean, one being her friend from Montreal. The other Jean was shorter, at around five-foot-six inches tall, with black hair that was styled in a bowl-style haircut, resembling a traditional Beatles hairstyle. He had blue eyes and spoke with a French accent. According to news sources, Reet sent a postcard to her family on October 31, 1969, written in their native Estonian. It stated: “Dear Mother and Father, the weather is nice, and the people are kind. I have a nice little apartment. I go frequently to the beach. Please write to me, Hugs, Reet.” This is the last known contact she would have with them.
News sources reported that a friend of the Jurvetson family, Gilda Green, saw the second Jean in Montreal in the spring of 1970.
“And I went right up to him and started talking to him, and I was asking him about Reet” she said. “And he said, ‘Oh yeah, she was with us for a couple of weeks and then left on her own and everything’s fine, she was happy.” This second man, Jean, has not been seen since. Police continue to search for both gentlemen who share the same name.
Investigators are hoping to identify and speak to either of the men named Jean. Police have stated that it is entirely possible that either one of the men could have been the last to see her alive and are hoping for any further details that they may be able to provide to further the investigation.
The murder of Reet Jurvetson is being considered as a “historic cold case,” but it is an open and ongoing murder investigation. Investigators continue to ask the public for assistance. If you have any information, police are asking that you contact the Cold Case Division of the Los Angeles Police Department at (213) 486-6810.