New clues emerge in a cold-case killing possibly linked to Manson family murders
Los Angeles police are seeking two men in connection with the slaying of a 19-year-old Canadian woman who was stabbed to death in 1969, just a few miles from the most infamous of the Manson family killings.
Sketches of the men were released Friday by the Los Angeles Police Department and are based on new information collected from a witness in Montreal.
The drawings show how the men might have looked in 1969, when the body of the then-unidentified woman — stabbed 150 times in the upper torso and neck — was discovered by a child on Mulholland Drive, not far from the Benedict Canyon home where actress Sharon Tate and four others had been stabbed to death a few months earlier, in August 1969.
The Canadian woman’s slaying has long been suspected of being tied to the Manson family murders, but as of April of this year, police still had no concrete evidence linking the killings.
We believed that Reet was probably in search of more autonomy, and therefore we waited for her to get in touch with us.
Anne Jurvetson, sister of Reet, who was slain in 1969
Detectives began reinvestigating the killing in 2003, after a retired LAPD cold-case investigator turned up a DNA sample, said LAPD Det. Luis Rivera. That sample, along with photographs of the victim, led investigators to her sister, and eventually, a positive ID was made.
Little was known about the young woman, Reet Jurvetson, after she traveled to Los Angeles in 1969. She came to meet a friend named “John or Jean,” Rivera said. She initially kept in sporadic touch with her family. As time passed without contact, her relatives became concerned, but they never filed a missing person’s report, he said.
Her sister, Anne, the only remaining relative in Jurvetson’s immediate family, recently created a website to help solve her sister’s killing. She posted photos of Reet as a teenager: celebrating her church confirmation, lounging on a sofa, smiling in a family portrait.
She describes the young woman as adventurous but naive, part of an Estonian refugee family who fled to Canada during World War II.
“Attempts were made to reach her, but they proved fruitless,” she wrote. “Initially, we believed that Reet was probably in search of more autonomy, and therefore we waited for her to get in touch with us.”
As years passed, Anne said, the family imagined her sister had made a new life for herself. No one suspected the young woman had been killed, she said.
When Anne found out about her sister’s slaying, it was “devastating,” she wrote.
The witness in Montreal provided new details in July about the friend named John or Jean.
The witness remembers meeting Reet Jurvetson and the man at a cafe in Montreal, police said. The witness also provided information on an associate, a shorter man with a Beatles-type haircut who might also have been named Jean.
Authorities said Friday that Anne Jurvetson had recently found a postcard sent by her sister about two weeks before she was killed.
Dated Oct. 31, 1969, it read:
“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.”
The postcard was sent from an apartment in Hollywood. The building, on Melrose Avenue, used to be the Paramount Hotel, but it was demolished in 1989 and replaced with a new structure.
Detectives initially suspected the Manson family of Jurvetson’s killing because their other victims had been stabbed to death, Rivera said, and Jurvetson’s death occurred about the time of the cult killings.
Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi said in his 1974 book “Helter Skelter” that he believed Jane Doe No. 59 — as Jurvetson was then known — was killed because she had witnessed another suspected Manson family slaying, the death of John Phillip Haught.
Investigators initially believed Haught died playing Russian roulette in Venice in November 1969. But Simon Wells, author of the Manson biography “Coming Down Fast,” found out that Manson family members were present when Haught died.
Manson and his followers eventually were convicted of killing nine people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area in August 1969. Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war that he believed was prophesied in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”
Last year, LAPD investigators interviewed Manson at Corcoran State Prison, where he is incarcerated, but Manson did not provide any additional information, according to Capt. Billy Hayes, commander of the Robbery Homicide Division.
“Talking to Charlie is like talking to a wall,” Hayes said.
Prosecutors and Manson scholars have always believed the group was responsible for slayings beyond the nine for which they were convicted.
Manson is eligible for parole in 2027. Most of his followers remain jailed or have died.
Times staff writers James Queally and Richard Winton contributed to this report.
8:32 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional editing.
This article was originally published at 6 a.m.
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