Reet Jurvetson – Jane Doe 59 Possible Manson Victim

Reading about Los Angeles Police discovering the identity of Jane Doe 59 (Reet Jurvetson, born 1950, Montreal Canada) reminded me of this this intriguing article by Peter Watts of The Great Wen blog. The 19 year old Reet Jurvetson was viciously stabbed to death and her body dumped close to Spahn Ranch were Charles Manson and his followers were camped.  Jurvetson had moved to Los Angeles during the Spring or Summer of 1969. Her body was found by a passer-by in the brush off Mulholland Drive near Laurel Canyon on Nov. 16, 1969 just a week or so before Manson’s right-hand man Tex Watson was arrested in Texas. Although Police have never formally linked the crimes, it has been widely speculated that the girl may have been an additional victim of the group.

The family of Reet Jurvetson claim that Reet met a young man by the name of ‘John’ or ‘Jean’ in a coffee shop in Toronto before disappearing with him to Los Angeles late in the Summer of 1969. The family are now appealing for any information that might shed light on the few months Reet spent in LA or any slither of gossip that might reveal the identity of ‘John’.

Given the commonality of the name, this may be like looking for a needle in haystack but  there was a man by the name of John Deturo or John Detoro who arrived in Los Angeles from Toronto in Spring 1969 and found himself lodging with Harris Pic Dawson, a known associate of several of the victims (and Manson man, Tex Watson) and deeply enmeshed within the LA drugs scene. Pic was also arrested and interviewed as a possible suspect by the LAPD investigating the Manson crimes.

The article by Peter Watts discusses the activities of Dawson, one time boyfriend of singer Cass Elliot (of the Mamas & the Papas) and how the pair became the focus of a Police Investigation in Britain centering on an international drugs smuggling operation (with links to Canada). Although widely reported as your typical drugs bust by the Press at the time, Elliot’s arrest as the band landed in Southampton had little to do with the small stash of weed the band had brought with them for recreational use and a lot more to do with Cass’s ‘occasional boyfriend’ Pic Dawson and a major drug trafficking operation the Met suspected Pic of being involved in and the time. Watts not only claims that Cass was a friend of the victims Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger, but that Manson was also a regular guest at her parties. It is  a claim corroborated by several of Cass’s contemporaries including the actor Michael Caine. Manson and his girls are known to have camped in Elliot’s garden and the singer was down to testify as a witness at the trial having been friendly with two of the murder victims. Elliot was also rumored to have been due at the Cielo residence on the night of the murders herself.

Sadly, Dawson died of a drugs overdose in the 1980s and Cass died of a heart attack in London in 1974, so we may never know the truth of the rumours at this time.

The Police Files on the Manson case show a pretty chaotic existence, so looking for a John among all the various transitory figures passing through LA at the time is likely to be difficult.

The son of Harris Pickins Dawson II, who was the Secretary to the US State Department Attache in Bonn, Germany, Pic arrives back in Los Angeles sometime in January 1969 after several ambiguous trips around Europe and the Middle East (it was during this period that Pic became romantically involved with Beverly Paulding, and member of a distinguished US Naval dynasty).

On his return Dawson moves into a house on Kings Road with Billy Doyle and Thomas Harrigan – both newly arrived from Toronto. During his interview Pic provides a fairly lurid picture of activities at both Cielo Drive (where Tate and her friends were murdered) and parties in and around the Canyon area. Pic even confesses to having pulled a knife similar to one found at the scene of the murders on Wojciech Frykowski, a friend of Polanski who died alongside Tate sometime between 8th and 9th August 1969.

In a Police interview Pic’s friend Billy Doyle talks about Pic and John Deturo and John’s arrival in LA in the Spring of 1969. The full interview can be found here. Billy also talks about the regular drug runs the group would make to Toronto in the Summer of that year – which appears to have included John. Police were interested in an altercation that is said to have taken place at the Tate house and at party attended by several of the victims some weeks prior to the murders. Although vague in his response to claims put to him by Police, Doyle admits that he might have been beaten and forcefully sodomised by Tate and Polanski’s friend Frykowski in the weeks leading up the murders. But given the sheer volume of narcotics he was consuming at the time, he says he can’t be sure. Doyle does say he may have told Mama Cass about the incident (who, like Dawson, Doyle had been dating on and off for some time and who, according to some, had organized and hosted the party). Some also claim that the Manson group had been on the receiving end of a drugs burn and that tensions were high between various members of Pic’s group, the Manson group and one of the victims.

Pic Dawson and ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot in LA

When John DeTuro arrives from Canada in early April of 1969, John persuades Dawson to lodge with him at the notorious San Moritz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. John “Drumbo” French  in his book Beefheart: Through The Eyes of Magic describes it as a ‘sleazy Hollywood hotel’, ruminating that Saint Moritz ‘was probably the patron saint of junkies’. According to Greg Davidson of Captain Beefheart, the hotel was full of Hollywood hoodlums who looked like they ‘slit your throat for a dime’. Interestingly, Greg mentions that Ray Collins of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention lived at the hotel too at this time. Manson associate, Bobby Beausoleil, whose arrest is alleged to have sparked a chain of events that resulted in the murders of Tate and her friends, was also an associate of Davidson and Collins, having contributed backing vocals on Zappa’s Freak Out and Hot Rats albums. Bobby Beausoleil is also alleged to have been at the recording sessions of Trout Mask Replica by Beefheart, which took place in Topanga Canyon just twenty or so minutes from Manson and Beausoleil’s base at Spahn Ranch. Intriguingly, Zappa and Beausoleil both appeared in the 1967 movie, Mondo Hollywood. Manson victim, Jay Sebring also made an appearance.

A full account of the period provided by witnesses can be found here. Again, it’s a sleazy,  chaotic and rather vague affair but it’s interesting that several of Doyle and Dawkin’s fellow traffickers all left LA within weeks of the murders at Cielo Drive (going as far afield as New York and Jamaica). Daniel Stanland, Lesrine Small, Marcia Figueroa and Rose Smalling – all left town, and the last Dawson saw of John was when the pair hired a car and drove from Los Angeles to Virginia sometime in May/June that same year.  Manson victims, Frykowski and Folger had loaned Dawson use of their home in Woodstock but Dawkin’s stay was rather brief. He says Detoro/Deturo returned to Canada (possibly with Thomas Harrigan who brought back a supply of MDA that he sold onto Manson victim, Wojciech Frykowski)  during the Summer of 1969. Whether John returned to LA during the Fall of that year is not made clear. However, it is known that John and Pic’s friends Billy Doyle and Thomas Harrigan regularly shuttled back and forth with supplies, often using additional ’emissaries’ to smuggle the stash.

Manson victim Sharon Tate and Manchester ‘witches’ Alex and Maxine Sanders

In his book, The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman, Nikolas Schreck (son-in-law of LA Satanist, Anton LaVey) the author contends that the supply of MDA that had been retrieved from the Tate house on the night of the murders eventually found its way to Manchester, England. Manson’s right-hand man Bruce Davies had made regular trips to Manchester and was seen on at least one occasion at the Eighth Day ‘head-shop’ on Oxford Road, a co-operative run by several of those involved at the Magic Village nightclub, run by Manchester impresario, Roger Eagle. Witness accounts at the time place Bruce in the company of girls from the local wiccan community, set-up and maintained by celebrity witches, Alex and Maxine Sanders, famous among other things, for having coached Sharon Tate on the set of the movie, Eye of the Devil in 1966. It’s not difficult to see how such an encounter may have taken shape. At this time Eagle was living at 355 Wilbraham Road and the Sanders house was just 3 minutes walk up the road at 24 Egerton Road. Young ‘free-spirited’ girls were in plentiful supply at each. That the stash should end up at Eagle’s Magic Village is not that implausible either as the club played regular host to Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, both bands mentioned earlier in relation to Bobby Beausoleil and Pic Dawson. If there had been any deals made by Dawkins and Deturo at the Saint Moritz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, then it may have come together as a result of the regular trips to Manchester by the Beefheart and Zappa bands and the casual gang of misfits that generally made up the road crew.

Was Pic’s friend John Deturo/Detoro the man who met Reet in a Toronto Coffee House? It seems doubtful, but it’s certainly plausible that Reet may have encountered Manson and the gang by meeting someone with links to the ‘free-spirited’ community that Doyle, Dawson and Harrigan had broken into. Procuring girls for various services was not uncommon during this period and certainly not unknown among this particular group of people. Perhaps Reet’s intelligence and good nature simply made her unsuitable for whatever use of her they had in mind. The Manson Family’s associates within the LA drugs scene were numerous and open communities like those they lived in were a fluid, chaotic affair. But as I mentioned before, John is an all-too common name for any of this to really matter.

What we do know is that John Deturo’s friend from Toronto, Tom Harrigan visited the Tate residence on the afternoon of August 8th just several hours before the murders. According to the LA District Attorney’s office, he was there to discuss a delivery of MDA, an Ecstasy-like drug that the victim Frykowski intended to supply among Hollywood circles. They also have evidence by way of statements that at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 8. two large steamer trunks arrived at the Cielo Avenue address. Harrigan left at 6.00pm and is likely to have been one of the last people to see the victims alive.

That Tex Watson, a  rival dealer and gobetween, turns up with the Manson girls between 11.00pm and 12.00am that same night seems timed to coincide with the shipment. Were Harrigan and Doyle working with Tex on the retrieval of the shipment? Someone would have to have known that it would be there.

This is not an attempt to implicate John in Reet’s murder, but  a simple attempt to  throw a little light on nearly 50 years of darkness and understand a sequence of actions or events that may have resulted in her death. And whilst there is little reason to doubt the guilt of the Manson and his associates, there is no telling just how far and wide their tentacles stretched and if Manson’s illegal activities reached as far afield as Manchester and Canada.

family memorial website:



5 Comments Add yours

  1. There’s been an update from LAPD. They are looking for two witnesses, one of whom is said to resemble the late Doors musician, Jim Morrison. Interestingly, Manson (Cielo Drive) victim, Jay Sebring had styled Morrison’s ‘free-flowing’ hair style for the shots that became so iconic and imitated here by the Police artist:

    Personally I very much doubt the credibility of the recent photo-fits as they’ll inevitably set in motion a bizarre chain of conspiracy stories featuring The Beatles and The Doors.

    The more interesting part is that Reet is reported to have met Jean/John in the Café Image in Montreal, owned by Cliff Gazee, and believed to have been a regular haunt for the kind of biker gangs that Pic Dawson, Billy Doyle & Charlie dealt with (the area also gets a mention in relation to revolutionary magazine, Logos edited by the late Peter Desbarats)

    The last known address for Reet was apartment 306 at the former Paramount Hotel at 5311 Melrose Avenue, just outside Paramount Pictures film studios. In the golden days of Hollywood the hotel had played host to crew members and scriptwriters but by the late 60s had become something of a magnet for drop-outs and drug users. If Detoro and Pic Dawson were regular lodgers and suppliers at the notorious (and nearby) San Moritz Hotel, then its possible they were familiar with the Paramount.

    The fact that the hotel were Reet was staying at the time of her death was adjacent to Paramount Studios might indicate that she was scouting for movie-work or had been promised movie-work.

    Tate’s husband, Roman Polanski had been contracted by the head of Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans for the film, Rosemary’s Baby. There is a story in one or two biographies of Sharon Tate that has Pic Dawson at a party with Polanski’s agent and standing on his foot, leading to a fairly violent confrontation, so the chances of Pic being a regular face around the Studios are high.

    Nikolas Schreck alleges that a mafia money-making scheme which had been financing the Paramount studios was under investigation by the FBI at the time of the murders.

    Police had found drugs in Jay Sebring’s black Porsche, which was parked outside the house on the night of the murders at Cielo Drive. It has longed been rumoured that he was a supplier to the stars – for a range of different services.

    Did the attractive young girl in the photos dream of movie stardom? Is that how she could have been lured to LA?

    In fairness, given the lack of support this case got at the time and the broader, more complex context of the Manson murders (criminal gangs/trafficking etc) it might turn out that John/Jean was an undercover cop recruiting Reet as informer. Who knows.


  2. ramalamaman says:

    In Sanders’ book The Family, he mentions that Mama Cass (as well as John Phillips) both knew Manson.


    1. Yes, it seems Manson did know Cass. Michael Caine recalls a party where Cass introduced him to a scruffy guy he believs was Manson. Cass was an on-off girlfriend of Pic Dawson who lodged with this ‘John Detoro’ I talk about here. The story about Cass, Caine and Dawson can be found at link below. It’s claimed Cass and Pic Dawson were investigated by British Police over links to some international drugs ring


  3. Would be interesting to learn where the Scimitar Studio was based. I know that like Reet’s apartment, it was based on Melrose Avenue. The CIA’s Chauncey Holt talks about the Scimitar Studio being used as a CIA front and that it was turning out fake IDs around this time (a “documentation mill” as he calls it).

    Holt claims to have featured in the story of Lee Harvey Oswald and New Orleans. This is pretty interesting as Oswald’s old marine buddy, Kerry Thornley lived around the corner from Manson in San Francisco. Thornley’s Kerista Commune had their base at 543 Frederick Street, which was just a five minute walk around the corner from Manson and Mary Brunner at 636 Cole Street. The exchange of personnel between the Manson network and the British Process Church (curated by Robert de Grimston/Robert Moor) has aready been well documented. I always felt that Grimston/Moor was working for a foriegn agency (Britain, Germany, Russia – who knows).

    There are also a lot of crossovers between the Process Church and the Oswald story, just as there are between the Process and the Robery Kennedy assassination. The kooky Process Church had their HQ in New Orleans around this time and had another base in Mexico. The Process Church were also fingered over the Robert Kennedy assassination.(Sirhan Sirhan contacts at the hotel and girl in plka dot dress etc)

    Melrose Avenue’s Holt claims to have provided the fake IDs for Oswald.

    You can’t reject espionage entirely given the alleged politics of Wojciech Frykowski, Polanski and victim Gary Hinman (Communist). And then you also had Bobby Beausoleil residence at the ‘Russian House’ with Comminust Kenneth Anger. Perhaps that explains why Bobby was in receipt of so many perks in prison. For services rendered in the past. Who controlled the trafficking of drugs between the US and Canada? And where on Melrose Avenue was Holt’s Scimitar Studio based? (7381 Melrose Avenue?)

    Also: the daughter of journalist and former Intelligence man Hans Habe (Marina Elizabeth Habe) was killed in very similar circusmtances to Reet in December 1968 – also in Hollywood. Her father Hans appears to have undergone Psyops training when drafted into US Military Intelligence in the 1940s. In his long and complex career would certainly be suited to espionage. His daughter went missing from her home at 8962 Cynthia Avenue (a 10 minute car ride from Reet Jurvetson on Melrose). Habe’s wife was the step-daughter of America’s former Ambassador To Russia.


    Whether or not any of this has anything to do with the death of Reet is another matter (although her Estonia heritage is interesting). That said, I’m quite comfortable with the idea of an Intelligence dimension to the Manson and Process story.


  4. The Café Image in Montreal, owned by Cliff Gazee where Reet is alleged to have met jean/John? Is that the same Cliff Gazee who was involved in publishing Native American periodicals & newspapers? Just thinking about that native American ring Reet had on her finger (manufactured in Mexico?). Not sure those ‘Beatles & Morrison’ photo-fits can be trusted.


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