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.
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.
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: