MONTREAL—For decades, she simply was known as Jane Doe No. 59—an unidentified body dumped with 150 stab wounds in Los Angeles in 1969 near the site of several killings perpetrated by the notorious Manson family.
Yesterday, a Canadian connection was confirmed in the 47-year-old cold case when the murdered woman was identified as Reet Silvia Jurvetson, a 19-year-old Montreal resident who had gone to L.A. that year.
“Jane Doe #59 now has a name,” Anne Jurvetson, Reet’s sister and the last living member of her immediate family, said in a statement.
“She had one all along but no one knew.”
Jurvetson added she’s hopeful the news will help provide authorities with leads or fresh information.
“Finally, after all these years, we are faced with hard facts,” the Quebec woman wrote in a four-page testimonial dated April 18 and released by authorities.
“My little sister was savagely killed.”
Anne, now 73, had been in contact with the LAPD since last year, when Reet’s friends saw a post-mortem picture, noticed a resemblance, and alerted her.
A DNA match positively identified Jurvetson as Jane Doe No. 59, whose corpse was found Nov. 16, 1969 by a bird-watcher in dense brush off the iconic Mulholland Drive.
She had been stabbed 150 times and didn’t have identification.
But the location and timing of the killing, just a few kilometres from the site of several Manson family murders, long fuelled speculation that Jurvetson’s case was connected.
L.A. Police Det. Luis Rivera told People Magazine, which broke the story, that investigators can’t rule out the Manson family’s involvement in the killing.
Charles Manson achieved notoriety in 1969 as the leader of a “family” of young killers who terrified L.A.
He was convicted of killing seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate, then wife of director Roman Polanski.
The Associated Press said investigators interviewed Manson a few months ago about Jurvetson but turned up no new information.
Rivera told The Canadian Press there is nothing firm as of yet that would allow authorities to connect the slaying to the Manson clan.
“There’s no link, there’s no evidence to it,” Rivera noted.
“Other than the same time period when the Manson murders were happening, we haven’t been able to find any links at all.”
Anne Jurvetson used her statement to ask for privacy but hopes telling what she knows will help detectives.
“I am horrified to think of how terribly frightened and alone she must have felt as she died,” she wrote.
Reet Jurvetson, the daughter of Estonian refugees, was born in Sweden in 1950 and grew up in Montreal.
Her sister described her as a “lovely, free-spirited, and happy girl” who was artistic, had a knack for drawing, and made her own clothes.
She took part in Girl Guides and sang in a youth choir.
“She was deeply loved by both family and friends,” her sister wrote.
Reet became more adventurous and craved freedom in her teens, and moved to Toronto upon graduating high school, working at Canada Post while living with her grandmother before travelling to California.
“My parents received a postcard from her saying she was happy, had a nice apartment in Los Angeles, and told them not to worry,” Anne wrote.
As time passed, they didn’t hear again from her.
Attempts to track her down were fruitless and inquiries made by Reet’s mother with her friends yielded no news.
They grieved her disappearance for many years but never filed a report, waiting instead for her to contact them—assuming Reet was seeking more autonomy.
“As incredible as it seems, my parents never thought to report Reet missing to the police,” Anne wrote.
“They thought that she was just living her life somewhere and that eventually news from her would turn up.”
Rivera said they’re trying to identify someone named “Jean” or “John,” who the victim met in Toronto before heading to L.A.
“That’s the starting point,” said Rivera.
“Now that we know who she is, we go back and try to track her steps.”