(The latter part of this post contains an important new revelation. Please pass it along to any interested parties.)
The LAT has published a fascinating piece on the lesser-known victims of the Manson Family. The focus is on Reet Jurvetson, only recently identified as "Jane Doe 59," a body found off of Mulholland Drive in late 1969. The multiple stab wounds (as many as 150!) led many to believe that the murder was a Manson Family hit. She was just 19.
Unnervingly, the body was found in almost the exact same spot where Marina Habe
(another proposed Manson victim) had turned up.
November of 1969 seems rather late. Manson was arrested in October of that year.
One wonders about the motive. The Manson family were not spree killers: Each "hit" had a reason, usually linked to drugs. It is said that Jurvetson had witnessed another Manson-related killing, that of John Michael Haught, a.k.a. Christopher Zero. The Haught death has never been definitively tied to Manson. However, I'd like to quote a bit from Ed Sanders' long-awaited (and quite excellent) bio of Sharon Tate, which you can now find in bookstores:
Dianne Lake, in the fall of 1967, was an emancipated child of fourteen who lived with her parents at the commune called the Hog Farm outside Los Angeles. She met the Manson Family in Topanga Canyon at the Spiral Staircase and joined up. She was with them all the way to the mass arrests in the fall of 1969—although she was still just seventeen years old.
She became a star witness at the Tate-LaBianca trial, and during the trial was a ward, because she was underage, of Inyo County district attorney investigator Jack Gardiner and his wife. She had memories of the English satanic group which she imparted to Mr. Gardiner. The Family, she told Gardiner, received money from the cult, and the cult wanted the Family to join. Unusual sex acts came from the English cult, according to Dianne, and use of drugs as part of the “program,” according to her, came from the cult.
Jack Gardiner also told Larry Larsen that other Family members, including Leslie Van Houten and a young man named Christopher Zero, talked about the English cult while in jail in Inyo County in late 1969. Zero, whose true name was John Philip Haught, was shot to death, or shot himself, under very strange circumstances, in a house in Venice a few weeks after being released from the Inyo County Jail.
When Ed Sanders refers to "an English cult," he means the Process Church of the Final Judgment, which grew out of Scientology (formerly based in England). Manson is known to be linked to The Process -- even Bugliosi admits this. The precise nature of the connection remains disputed.
This is as good a place as any to bring up a question that has long troubled me. Was The Process involved in the drug trade?
Back in the 1970s, Daniel Cohen, a very skeptical writer, wrote a book about cults. One chapter of this work discusses The Process, which had recently changed its name to The Foundation, and which had moved into an incredibly expensive penthouse suite in Manhattan. After visiting these posh new digs, Cohen wondered where the hell the group got that kind of money. Even the dullest readers of that book should be able to sense the word "drugs" lurking between the lines.
wonder how The Process paid for the large parcel of land in Utah which now houses the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Those guys did not get massive donations via panhandling. Satanic panhandlers rarely fare well. So where did the money come from?
Getting back to Reet Jurvetson: I see no hard evidence that Reet knew Zero/Haught. I'm not at all convinced that the Family murdered Reet, but I do think that she was killed by the same person (or people) who killed Habe. That suspicion is purely based on the fact that both bodies were found in almost exactly the same spot.
Sanders says in his earlier book, The Family,
that Jane Doe 59 (now known to be Reet) was wearing a leather belt created by someone connected with that self-same "English Satanic organization."
Again: He means The Process. Everyone who knows the case understands what Sanders means.
Even if Charlie did know something about Reet's fate, I doubt that he would ever talk. Manson appears to be terrified of The Process -- even now!
I should take this opportunity to update a key segment of my longest post on the Manson case
, from 2014. In the following segment, "Schreck" refers to the rather intimidating Manson investigator Nikolas Schreck
, who has done truly groundbreaking work:
Schreck tracked down someone who was with Roman Polanski at the moment the filmmaker first received news of his wife's death. The name of this important source will be kept secret as long as the source lives. For now, Schreck refers to this man only as X, although we are also told that anyone with "half a brain" should be able to guess who X is.
I then go on to point out that Polanski was with his producer Andrew Braunsberg at that moment.
However, I now know that Braunsberg was not
Why is X so important? Here's why:
Schreck reports that, according to X, Polanski said something very revealing and astounding right after he got the worst telephone call of his life. We are told that the director uttered these words: "I told Jay not to do business with those fuckers in Chatsworth."
("Jay" refers to Polanski's slain friend, hairstylist Jay Sebring. The Manson family lived in Chatsworth and dealt drugs.)
That one statement cuts Bugliosi's Helter Skelter narrative into shreds.
Later on in that earlier piece, I identify another X candidate: Gene Gutowski, another close associate of Roman Polanski who was working with the filmmaker in London.
I can now confirm that my original "gut" instinct was correct. Gutowski is X.
Ponder the implications of that.
Gene Gutowski, still alive, was present when Roman Polanski said "I told Jay not to do business with those fuckers in Chatsworth" immediately after Polanski learned about Sharon Tate's murder. Gutowski knew -- or at least had good reason to suspect -- "who done it" from the very first.
Yet in all the intervening years, neither Polanski nor Gutowski have admitted that Polanski suspected from the start that the Manson Family were probably involved.
In my earlier piece, I point to a 1969 newsclip (published after the killings but before the arrests) in which Gutowski states that the cops know who did the crime. I interpret this statement as an oblique reference to The Family.
Gutowski has a Facebook page. If you're on FB, you may want to ask him a few questions.