How Murder Victim Reet Jurvetson Was Identified Decades After Her Death

On November 16, 1969, a boy was birdwatching in Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, when he spotted the body of a woman by the bushes. The teenager immediately told his father, who called authorities to alert them of the situation. Upon arrival, investigators confirmed that the unidentified woman had been dead for a while. Per The Cinemaholic, she was found fully clothed, and her body was entangled in tree branches. No identification was found on her person.

An autopsy was done the following day. The medical examiner determined that she was killed within 48 hours prior to the discovery of her body, and she had 157 stab wounds done with a pen knife on her chest and abdomen. Her neck seemingly had one big gash, but upon closer inspection, the examiner saw that there were several stab wounds on the neck. According to the CBC, the woman attempted to block the attacker as evidenced by multiple defensive wounds on her hands. For decades, the woman was only identified as Jane Doe 59; it wasn't until 2015 that she was identified as Reet Jurvetson.

The initial investigation

When Reet Jurvetson's body was found, investigators worked hard to try and identify her. They went through files of missing persons in the U.S. and Canada, but no one matched the description of Jane Doe 59. A sketch and information were released to the public, which consisted of a physical description. Jane Doe 59 was a white female estimated to be between 20 to 23 years old. She weighed approximately 115 pounds and her height was between 5'8" to 5'10" (via Doe Network). She had green eyes and dark brown hair, and other distinguishing marks included vaccination marks on her thigh and arm, as well as a birthmark on her right buttock.

Investigators theorized that Jane Doe 59 was transported via a car from the location of her murder to Mulholland Drive and was dragged to where she was discovered. Detective Lou Rivera, who worked on the case, said the attack was savage and was typical of rage incidents from a domestic partner, as reported by the CBC. Despite their efforts, Jane Doe 59 remained unidentified. With no leads as to who she was and no witnesses to her murder, the case went cold.

Cold case detectives revisited the case

The Los Angeles Police Department formed a cold case unit in 2001, and detectives were tasked to revisit cold cases that dated back to 1960. Detective Cliff Shepard opened Jane Doe 59's case file in 2003, and he pored over the remaining pieces of evidence. The unidentified woman's dental records showed she had several amalgam fillings, and Shepard thought it most likely that she came from a well-to-do family, per the Montreal Gazette. Her pieces of clothing had "Made in Canada" tags, which was another clue.

By then forensic science had significantly advanced since Jane Doe 59's murder took place, so Shepard was able to produce a DNA profile from the blood stains on her clothing. The profile was then cross-checked with other databases throughout the country, but still, there was no match. Information was also sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), but Shepard was told that the case was too old to be solved. He then thought of posting the information online, specifically websites dedicated to unsolved crimes and missing persons.

Jane Doe 59 was identified after 46 years

In 2015, Anne Jurvetson's friend alerted her of a photo of Jane Doe 59 that she saw online. The woman in the photo resembled Anne's sister, Reet, who had been missing since 1969. According to The Cinemaholic, Reet was an adventurous woman who lived in Montreal with her family. She was 19 years old in 1969 when she traveled to Los Angeles. Her family received letters about her adventures, but the last one they received was a postcard dated October 31, 1969. It was addressed to her parents, and she let them know that she was living in a small apartment and frequented the beach. As noted by LAPD Online, the address was written, but the building, which was the Paramount Hotel, has since been demolished.

The Jurvetsons didn't report Reet missing, as she was a free spirit and they assumed she was just starting a new life for herself in Los Angeles. Her family wanted to give her space to do as she pleased, but as months and years went by without contact from Reet, their concern grew. They hired a private investigator to look into her whereabouts, but Reet was never found. When Anne saw the photo of Jane Doe 59, she submitted a DNA sample, which turned out to be a match to Jane Doe 59 (via The Fifth Estate).

Reet Jurvetson's last known whereabouts

When Jane Doe 59 was finally identified as Reet Jurvetson, detective Cliff Shepard then continued to look into her life just before she left for Los Angeles, in hopes of finding out who murdered her. The last postcard she sent to her family was dated two weeks before she was killed. After interviewing family and friends, Shepard found out that Reet headed to Los Angeles to meet up with a male friend named John/Jean (sketch on the left) whom she met at a cafe in Canada, as reported by People. The detective was able to get more information from Reet's friend, who was also at the cafe when Reet and John/Jean met.

Reet's friend, Gilda Green, told The Fifth Estate that she once ran into a friend (sketch on the right) of John/Jean's sometime in 1970. When she asked about Reet, the friend told her that Reet had been with them in Los Angeles for some time before she went off on her own. Detectives were not able to find John/Jean, but he is considered a person of interest in Reet's case.

Did the Manson family murder Reet Jurvetson?

There were speculations that the Manson Family was responsible for Reet Jurvetson's murder, which took place just a few months after the Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angeles. The Manson Family, led by Charles Manson, lived at Spahn Ranch, and investigators looking into Jane Doe 59's murder interviewed the caretaker, Ruby Pearl, as reported by People. Pearl told detectives that Jane Doe 59 resembled a woman named Sherry who used to hang out at the ranch. Manson was interrogated regarding the case, but detectives found no link between him and Jurvetson.

The LAPD officially reported that there are no pieces of evidence to support the claim that the Manson Family was responsible for Reet's murder (via CBC). To this day, Reet's murder case is still open, and the LAPD is looking for any information that may identify the person of interest only known as John/Jean, or any information that may help solve the crime.