'In a hurry': Did Canadian woman's killer drop his glasses as he got rid of body in L.A. in 1969?

As CBC’s the fifth estate investigates the brutal 1969 stabbing death of a Canadian woman in Hollywood, the show is asking if anyone might recognize the black prescription glasses found near where Reet Jurvetson’s body was discovered.

CBC’s the fifth estate looking for potential witnesses in death of Reet Jurvetson

CBC's the fifth estate is appealing for clues in its investigation into the death of Reet Jurvetson, including anything anyone might know about a pair of prescription glasses found near where her body was discovered in Los Angeles in 1969. (Jurvetson family)

Five days after Reet Jurvetson was found brutally stabbed to death in Los Angeles in 1969, a street maintenance worker came across a pair of black prescription glasses near where the Canadian woman's body was discovered.

Could those glasses have belonged to the killer of the 19-year-old originally from Montreal who had arrived in Hollywood a few weeks earlier?

For several months, CBC's the fifth estate has been telling the story of Jurvetson — known for decades as Jane Doe 59 — via Instagram and Twitter. The program is appealing for clues in the case, including anything anyone might know about the glasses.

The Los Angeles Police Department thought the glasses could be significant, so Sgt. Dewayne Wolfer, who had investigated the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy the year before, was put on the case.

A pair of black prescription glasses was found near the place where Jurvetson’s body was discovered in November 1969. (CBC)

He was asked to look into the model and prescription of the glasses that were found about 18 metres from where Jurvetson's body was discovered along Mulholland Drive.

It's not known if Wolfer found anything. Any notes he might have made about the glasses couldn't be found, according to the LAPD.

But handwritten notes made by another unidentified LAPD investigator assigned to the task did surface.

The note dated May 16, 1972 — and leaked to the fifth estate — says that police consulted with an optometrist and other sources who advised that the glasses appeared to be for a man who was "very nearsighted."

The prescription was –75 for both eyes "at 20/30 and 20/40."  The frames were the Liberty brand, available across the U.S. at the time.

Retired lead detective Cliff Shepard told the fifth estate that he thinks it's "very probable" that the glasses are connected with Jurvetson's death.

 'Going as fast as he can'

"You have a man who has to get rid of this body of this girl. He's afraid that someone will see him so he's in a hurry and going as fast as he can," says Shepard.

"It's possible that the glasses fell out of his pocket or he dropped it and he was in such a panic he didn't notice. And when he did notice he doesn't recall where he dropped it. It was probably pitch black up there. "

Unidentified LAPD investigators' notes detail the results of looking into the ownership of the prescription glasses found near the location where Juvetson's body was discovered. (CBC)

While it's not clear if Wolfer made any headway of his own on the glasses, there is a note in LAPD records that he was present when the autopsy was performed on Jurvetson's body at 10 a.m. on Nov. 17, 1969.

The body had been found the day before when 15-year-old Trevor Santochi was hiking on Mulholland Drive.

Around 3:15 p.m. on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, he glanced down the embankment and saw a body lying parallel to the road almost five metres below.

He ran home to tell his stepfather, Dr. Murray Abowitz, who called police.

LAPD Sgt. Rick Lundgren arrived an hour later. He couldn't go down the embankment to look more closely because it was at a 45-degree angle, so he waited for other officers.

A low-hanging tree branch prevented the body from rolling all the way down the hill and into a 213-metre-deep canyon.

Body dragged from car

By the time investigators reached the victim's body, rigor mortis was beginning to leave Jurvetson's head, face and neck areas, according to the investigators' report.

She had been killed within the previous 48 hours, about two hours after having eaten a meal.

Evidence suggested her body had been put in the back seat of a car, dragged out and then around the trunk.

Firefighters and police investigators peer over the embankment along Mulholland Drive where Jurvetson's body was found. (LAPD)

When the branch caught her 112-pound body, her right leg was crossed over her left leg at the knee and her left arm was bent behind her back. The palm of that hand was facing up. Her eyes were wide open.

It was a frenzied attack — 157 stabs in all. According to the autopsy report, three were to the chest, two were to the abdomen and some were to the hands.

There were so many stab wounds to the neck that until Dr. Gaston Herrera from the L.A. County Mortuary looked at it closely the next morning, it had been thought it was just one gaping wound, according to the investigators' report.

Defensive wounds

The stab wounds to her hands were defensive.

"More than likely she was unable to defend herself any other way other than to … use her hands to either block the attack or actually grab on to the knife," Det. Lou Rivera, the LAPD's current investigator on the case, told the fifth estate's Bob McKeown in an interview.

"So the way we see it is she was immobilized, probably on her back, and the person might have been on top of her as he was inflicting the wounds." 

Rivera called the attack "savage," and said such attacks are "usually a rage type of incident, where the cases that I've handled it's always been a domestic partner."

Jurvetson didn't have any ID on her when she was found.

LAPD investigators examine the area along Mullholland Drive where Jurvetson's body was pushed over the embankment. (LAPD)

Jurvetson, who worked in a post office in Toronto, had travelled to Hollywood in late October 1969 to visit a friend named Jean. She had known him from her time as a teenager in Montreal. None of her friends can recall his surname or if he even provided it.

Person of interest

The LAPD calls him a person of interest in the case. They are also interested in speaking with his friend, also named Jean, who stayed in the same one-room apartment while Jurvetson was there.

One of the two Jeans told Jurvetson's best friend, Gilda Green, months later in Montreal that Jurvetson left after staying with them for two weeks. She didn't tell them where she was headed next.

She had told friends in Toronto and Montreal that she was going to visit her brother.

Jurvetson, far right, sits with her brother Tonu, far left, her sister Anne, Tonu's wife, Tiiu, and Anne's husband, Leno. (Jurvetson family)

Jurvetson had been expected by her elder brother Tonu, his wife, Tiiu, and their maternal grandmother Johanna Pats at Tonu's home in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a visit in November 1969. 

Until last year, Jurvetson had been known only as Jane Doe 59 in the LAPD files. But in June 2015, one of her friends called the LAPD to say she recognized Jurvetson's morgue photo online. Jurvetson was positively identified through DNA testing.

Santochi, who found Jurvetson's body, is now 61. He does not wish to give any more interviews but in April he told NBC that he's glad the Jurvetson family finally has some answers.

"My heart goes out to them and I'm glad that maybe they can get some closure now," he said.

"I always wondered who she was. I had always assumed she was somebody local. But it's a very sad thing. It's something you never forget."

New details about Jurvetson's killing will be revealed in a fifth estate documentary called "Who Killed Jane Doe 59" airing this Friday, Nov. 18, at 9 p.m., two days after the 47th anniversary of Santochi discovering Jurvetson's body.


the fifth estate is actively searching for clues and is inviting the public to take part in its  investigation by joining the Facebook page for the story, Facebook.com/JaneDoe59, and submitting any new clues.

You can also email the fifth estate directly at janedoe59@cbc.ca.

You can view the fifth estate's Instagram series about the case at Instagram.com/ronna_syed or twitter.com/Ronna_Syed