Could Canadian's brutal 1969 stabbing death be connected to another L.A. cold case?
CBC’s the fifth estate looking for potential witnesses in death of Reet Jurvetson
Within a few kilometres of where a Canadian woman's body was found dumped in Los Angeles in 1969, at least two other bodies were discovered and a disappearance took place within a year and a half.
The body of Reet Jurvetson, a 19-year-old originally from Montreal, was discovered off Mulholland Drive about 11 months after the body of 17-year-old Marina Habe was found a short distance away.
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 results of its six-month investigation will be rebroadcast on CBC News Network Sunday at 7 p.m
Habe, the daughter of actress Eloise Hardt and writer Hans Habe, was abducted from her driveway on Dec. 30, 1968, and found stabbed to death two days later. Her body was dumped off Mulholland Drive about 30 metres west of Bowmont Drive, police records show.
That was a short distance from where the body of Jurvetson — who was stabbed 157 times — was found on Nov. 16, 1969. No one has been charged in either death.
The location intrigues Cliff Shepard, a retired detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.
"There's differences, but the location is just striking to me … the hundred yards or so of each other," he said.
"Marina's body's found off of Mulholland … very close to where Reet's body was, a year later, 11 months later. I mean, that's pretty damning right there."
Shepard says it looks "more than coincidental."
"Marina's been stabbed a number of times in the thorax, and the throat."
Shepard says there is a chance the cases are connected.
"I just need more information. I wouldn't say that they're definitely the same murder, but boy, you piqued my interest and I want to know."
The current lead detective in Jurvetson's case, Det. Lou Rivera, is a bit more cautious in connecting the deaths.
"We don't have DNA from her [Marina Habe's] case or from our case so we can say 'yes, it's related.' We don't have any [thing] except for two similar circumstances," said Rivera.
"If we ever find someone and he says 'yeah I did both of them' then OK, give us specifics on each one… but as of right now we don't have enough to say that they're related."
Habe had been home from the University of Hawaii visiting her mom during her Christmas holidays when she was abducted.
She had been out that evening with a friend and returned home at 3:30 a.m. when her mother was awakened by the sound of a vehicle with loud pipes.
Hardt looked out the window and saw a man run toward a black car that appeared to be a sedan. She heard him yell "Go" and saw him jump into the passenger side of the vehicle. It was driven away at high speed by another person.
Habe's body was found on New Year's Day by a couple walking by. She had been killed within the previous 24 hours.
The autopsy report says she died from "multiple stab wounds of neck and thorax." Her carotid artery had been cut.
This was the same manner in which Jurvetson was killed.
The spot where Habe was dumped was also less than a kilometre from where the nude body of 19-year-old Rose Tashman was found on May 19, 1969.
She had been raped before being strangled with a piece of wire and dumped in a ravine near Mulholland Drive, according to media reports quoting the detectives at the time.
The San Fernando Valley State College student's car was found with a flat tire on the inbound lane of the Hollywood Freeway, near the Highland Ave. offramp.
Eighteen months later, on Nov. 15, 1970, 18-year-old Robin Graham disappeared after being seen by the California Highway Patrol with her vehicle on the shoulder of the southbound Hollywood Freeway near the Santa Monica offramp. She has not been heard from since.
Her abandoned car, which had run out of gas, was found just a few kilometres south of where Tashman's body was found.
According to media reports, police at the time suspected there might be a connection among the cases.
Neither Habe nor Jurvetson appeared to have been sexually assaulted or robbed, according to the police.
Both women were fully dressed.
Habe's purse was found near her, with money and her credit cards inside, according to media reports from the time. Jurvetson was found with two rings still on her hands.
Reet's sister, Anne Jurvetson, a deeply private person, broke her silence in an interview with the fifth estate's Bob McKeown and shared the story behind one of Jurvetson's rings.
"My father gave us both — the daughters — a red garnet ring for Christmas in 1965. He had brought those stones from Estonia," she said.
His father-in-law had given him the stones as a wedding present, intending that they be made into cufflinks.
"He carried those [stones] all his life and that was the time he decided he wanted to give it to his daughters," said Jurvetson. "That was as a part of her identification as well. So no doubt it was her."
Habe's mother says talking about her daughter's case is painful and requested that she not be contacted again.
"The more I dwell on it, the sicker I get. So I stay as far away from it as I can. But I sure as hell would like to know what happened to my daughter," said Hardt, who turns 99 next year.
"I'm only staying alive so I can get some answers."
Police offered nothing
Hardt says police haven't contacted her since the initial days of the investigation.
"I should think they would. I mean, we have the greatest system in the world and they've offered me nothing since the beginning," she said in a phone interview Friday.
"It just seems ridiculous. I mean, there's something wrong with the whole setup. They're either holding back or I don't understand that…. That's not normal."
Det. Lou Rivera said the original LAPD detectives from the Jurvetson case did not investigate any connection with the Habe case.
He said they had only written a couple of sentences saying that they were aware of the case.
That suggests that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department which investigated Marina Habe's death, likely did not look into any connection with the Jurvetson case either, because there aren't any notes in the LAPD records stating that.
We left several messages with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department but they did not return our phone calls.
Last week, the fifth estate also learned that a man believed to be living in the same building that Jurvetson stayed in while visiting Los Angeles — the Hollywood Executive Apartments — had allegedly tried to light a man on fire on Mulholland Drive in the late 1960s.
He was an admitted heroin addict who served time in jail, according to a media report.
When contacted about the man, the LAPD was tight lipped.
"We will follow up on any lead that we believe is viable to the investigation," said Det. Lou Rivera, the LAPD's lead detective on the Jurvetson investigation.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Additional research by Benyamin Paris, Anne Mercer, Diana Redegeld, Gabriel Hanna