Reet Jurvetson: Official Family Statement by Next of Kin

by Anne Jurvetson, April 18, 2016
(Updated September 6, 2016)

Reet Jurvetson at 18

Reet Jurvetson at 18

Recently, Jane Doe #59 (1969, Los Angeles, California) was positively identified as being my sister, Reet Jurvetson. She was a victim of homicide on or close to November 15, 1969.  She was stabbed to death at the age of nineteen, a short time after having arrived in Los Angeles.

Forty-six years have passed since Reet’s death, and I am the last living member of her immediate family. I have written this statement and am making it available to the public in the hopes that it might prompt someone to provide leads to the police. This, in turn, may help the detectives solve the mystery surrounding this horrible crime.

Through the years, when she was only known as Jane Doe #59, or Sherry Doe, there arose widespread speculation about her demise. A forensic artist had made some composite drawings of Reet. Some people thought they recognized her. Unfortunately, these drawings were clearly inaccurate, as anyone can see, and did not resemble her in the least. Hopefully, now that the police have more information on Reet’s time in Los Angeles and actual pictures of her, there may be new avenues explored.

Forensic artist's renditions of Reet Jurvetson

Forensic artist’s renditions of Reet Jurvetson

Reet Jurvetson’s Family Asks for Privacy

My desire is that my privacy be respected as I process the shock and grief associated with this news. I have been in regular contact with Detective Luis Rivera of the Los Angeles Police Department since the summer of 2015. All future information and/or inquiries are to be made to Mr. Rivera, and not to me. My hope is that this web page will also answer the questions that will no doubt arise about who Reet was, where she came from, and what she was doing in California.

How Reet Jurvetson Was Identified

reet jurvetson mid teens

Reet Jurvetson in her mid teens.

Because we now live in the age of the internet, where information overflows and where all kinds of websites exist, the last steps to identifying my sister were enabled. This would have been impossible even twenty or twenty-five years ago. You have to understand, I am seventy-three years old and the web is still fairly new to me. It was Reet’s friends who made the shocking discovery in June 2015 after seeing an actual post-mortem photograph and description of her on several websites.

Immediately, they sought to reach me and share their findings. We spoke with the authorities and, after confirming all aspects of her description, I was asked to provide my DNA. It matched. Ultimately, because of the hard work of police detectives, good friends, true-crime websites and organizations such as NamUs (the National Institute of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System), Jane Doe #59 now has a name. She had one all along, but no one knew.

Reet as a Child

Reet Jurvetson, celebrating her church confirmation

Reet Jurvetson, celebrating her church confirmation

Reet was the youngest child in our family and was born on September 23, 1950 in Sweden. We were Estonian refugees having fled our country in 1944, during World War II. We eventually made our way to Canada in 1951. Before long, we settled in Montreal, Quebec, and this is where Reet grew up.

Reet was a lovely, free-spirited and happy girl. She was very artistic, drew well, and liked to sew her own clothes. She was involved in Girl Guides and sang in a youth choir. She was deeply loved by both family and friends.

Reet Jurvetson During Her Teenage Years

Reet Jurvetson in her mid-teens

Reet Jurvetson in her mid-teens

During her teenage years, Reet developed a taste for adventure and freedom, all the while being naive and trusting of others. After graduating from high school, Reet moved to Toronto, Ontario, and she found work at Canada Post. She lived with our grandmother. From Toronto, at the age of 19, she went to visit California in the fall of 1969. It seemed that she decided to stay there, because my parents received a postcard from her saying she was happy, had a nice apartment in Los Angeles and told them not to worry. Her living coordinates dating from that time have since been lost, and so I do not know the details of where she lived. As time passed, however, we received no more news. Attempts were made to reach her, but they proved fruitless. Initially, we believed that Reet was probably in search of more autonomy, and therefore we waited for her to get in touch with us.

As months and then years passed, we imagined that she was making a new life for herself. I remember that my mother would regularly communicate with friends to know if anyone had received news from Reet. We were always hoping that she would re-establish contact with friends and family. But no one ever had any new information. However, not once did we suspect that she had been killed.

A Flawed Understanding of the Best Way to Deal with the Situation

Jurvetson sisters with parents 1966

Anne & Reet Jurvetson with their parents, 1967.

As incredible as it seems, my parents never thought to report Reet missing to the police (see Efforts Made to Find Reet Jurvetson). They thought that she was just living her life somewhere and that eventually news from her would turn up. In hindsight, I realize that this is a lack of discernment. But sadly, we did not know how to find someone on the other side of the continent, in another country, if that was even where she still was. North America is a big place! The fact remains, we were terribly perplexed and we grieved her disappearance for many long years.

Although our family continuously hoped that one day Reet would return home, I eventually came to the conclusion that she had probably passed away. It is such a sad, helpless kind of feeling to always question, to never know, to imagine scenarios, all the while still hoping and dreaming that one day there would be an answer.

Devastating News

Finally, after all these years, we are faced with hard facts. My little sister was savagely killed. It was not what I wanted to hear. And now I have a lot to come to terms with. I can hardly grasp how she could have been stabbed over 150 times. It is devastating. I try to draw comfort from the coroner’s report that at least she was not raped, nor were there traces of drugs or alcohol in her system. Her body and inner organs were “unremarkable” and she had obviously taken good care of herself. Nevertheless, I am horrified to think of how terribly frightened and alone she must have felt as she died.

Reet has been identified, but the murderer has not. I have shared these personal family photos in the hope that they might prompt someone’s memory and help those who had contact with Reet to remember what she looked like at the time. This, in turn, might enable them to provide leads or confessions to the police. I am asking any person who might still have information related to my sister’s stay in California to write to or call the Los Angeles Police Department.