Was she Charles Manson’s first victim? Jane Doe found stabbed in 1969 finally identified as Reet Jurvetson
Jurvetson had been stabbed 150 times a few miles from the site of the notorious Manson family killings.
The identification of a 19-year-old Canadian woman found savagely stabbed to death in Los Angeles in 1969 has brought some closure to her last living immediate relative but also resurrected decades-old speculation that her murder is connected to the Manson family killings.
Los Angeles police revealed on Wednesday that they had at last identified the young woman as Reet Jurvetson of Montreal, described by her sister and a friend as full of life and longing for adventure.
Jurvetson’s body was found November 16, 1969, by a birdwatcher in dense brush off iconic Mulholland Drive, a few miles from the site of the Manson family killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, and four others.
Jurvetson had been stabbed 150 times, wasn’t carrying identification and eventually became known as Jane Doe No. 59.
Police made the identification, first reported by People magazine, using DNA after Jurvetson’s sister recognised a photo of the young woman’s body posted online. The confirmation came in December.
“After all these years, we are faced with hard facts,” Anne Jurvetson said in a statement released on Wednesday through police. “My little sister was savagely killed ... I am horrified to think of how terribly frightened and alone she must have felt as she died.”
Jurvetson, 73, described the “sad, helpless kind of feeling” of not learning what had become of her sister until 46 years after her death – “to always question, to never know, to imagine scenarios, all the while still hoping and dreaming that one day there would be an answer.”
Though she now knows her sister’s fate, Anne Jurvetson said she still has a lot to come to terms with and is hopeful that media attention on the case leads to the killer or killers.
Los Angeles police Detective Luis Rivera said investigators interviewed Charles Manson, 81, a few months ago about Jurvetson killing, but it turned up no new information.
Though detectives haven’t found any concrete link between the stabbing of Jurvetson and the Manson family killings, but they haven’t ruled it out either, Rivera said.
He pointed out that Jurvetson was stabbed like most other Manson victims, and that her body was found near the site of some of the Tate killings in the same three-month period.
“We don’t rule anything out,” Rivera said. “Everything is on the table until proven otherwise.”
He said detectives are trying to track down their best lead, a man known as either “John” or the name’s French pronunciation, “Jean”. Jurvetson met the man in Toronto before flying to Los Angeles to see him the summer of 1969, he said.
Police hope renewed media attention will generate tips leading to the man and other witnesses.
“The challenge is the fact that we have people that might know but are no longer around or have forgotten,” Rivera said. “The longer you wait, the more things decay.”
Tate was killed in her home, along with four others, on August 9, 1969, three months before Jurvetson’s killing. Like Jurvetson, all but one of the victims had been stabbed repeatedly to death.
Anne Jurvetson said her free-spirited and naive sister went to Los Angeles after becoming smitten with “John”.
She said her sister sent her family a postcard saying she had found an apartment and was happy, but they never heard from her again. Her parents never reported her missing because “they thought that she was just living her life somewhere,” Anne Jurvetson said.
Piret Koppel, a Montreal psychotherapist, said she and Reet Jurvetson were friends, growing up in the same small, close-knit Estonian community in Montreal.
She described Jurvetson as intelligent and vivacious, and said she was distraught to finally learn how her friend had died.
“I have shivers on my body when I think about what happened to her,” she said.