For nearly half a century, she has been known simply as “Jane Doe No. 59.”
Her body was discovered by a birdwatcher Nov. 16, 1969, hidden in tangled brush down an embankment off Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles.
A white woman in her early 20s, she was tall and slender with brown hair, green eyes and “a mouthful of dental work, suggesting a middle-class background and parents who cared,” according to a 2012 post in True Crime Diary.
Investigators thought her clothes — a long-sleeve shirt, a corduroy jacket and knee-high boots — seemed out of place for California’s mild climate, especially when they noticed some items had “Made in Canada” tags attached, the Diary noted.
“The medical examiner found no evidence of smog in her lungs, suggesting she was new to the Los Angeles area,” the Diary said. “He did find a slight trace of tuberculosis, which she could have thought was a cold. Another clue about geography: there was some evidence of coal dust in the lungs, the kind that would come from living near coal-burning plants or mines.””
The brutal nature of the woman’s death only deepened the mystery. She’d been stabbed 150 times, mostly around her neck and torso, according to the Associated Press.
Cliff Shepard — a legendary Los Angeles detective who would spend decades investigating the homicide — deemed her death an “overkill” that hinted at a madman or a romantic relationship gone awry, according to the Diary.
Decades later, investigators still don’t know who killed the woman, but they do know who she was.
The break in the case occurred last year when someone saw a photo of Jane Doe No. 59 on a crime website and recognized that they were looking at an old friend — a woman named Reet Jurvetson, People reported. The friend contacted Jurvetson’s sister, who reached out to police. DNA taken from Jurvetson’s bloodied bra matched her sister, bringing some closure to a decades-old mystery.
This week, Los Angeles police said that the woman was a Canadian transplant who had arrived in Los Angeles the same year she was killed, according to People. The 19-year-old was born in Sweden and grew up in Montreal, People reported.
Due to the location and timing of Jurvetson’s death, investigators early on honed in on another potential culprit in the case: the Manson Family. Only three months earlier, and several miles away, a pregnant Sharon Tate and several friends had been fatally stabbed by members of the group.
Speculation continued when a caretaker from Spahn Ranch, where Charles Manson and his followers had taken up residence, told police that the unidentified woman resembled a young hippie who had spent time at the ranch, People reported.
But that woman was later found alive and well, according to the Diary.
Even now, investigators are exploring whether Jurvetson could’ve been tied to Manson. Overkill, the Dairy notes, was an element of the Manson family’s killing style.
“Manson claims there are other victims,” Shepard, who reopened the case in 2003 and is now retired, told People. “She could have been someone who was at Spahn Ranch.”
Investigators told People that no new information was gleaned from an October interview with Manson in which the convicted murderer was asked whether he recognized a photo of Jurvetson.
Los Angeles police Detective Luis Rivera told People that investigators are curious about another person of which little is known. His name was “John” and Jurvetson met him in Toronto before seeing him again in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969.
Anne Jurvetson described her sister to People as “free-spirited and happy.” She had gone to Los Angeles, she said, after becoming infatuated with John.
“As incredible as it seems, my parents never thought to report Reet missing to the police,” Jurvetson wrote in a family statement published by People “They thought that she was just living her life somewhere and that eventually news from her would turn up.”
“It is such a sad, helpless kind of feeling to always question, to never know. … After all these years, we are faced with hard facts,” she added. “My little sister was savagely killed. It was not what I wanted to hear.”