Body was mutilated: “Lady of the Dunes” identified after almost 50 years

corpse was mutilated
“Lady of the Dunes” identified after nearly 50 years

In the summer of 1974, a severely mutilated body of a woman was discovered on the Cape Cod peninsula in the US state of Massachusetts. Despite comparing thousands of missing person reports, even her name cannot be determined. Genealogical research and DNA analysis now lead to a hit.

In the unsolved murder of the “Lady of the Dunes,” the FBI has identified the victim nearly five decades after discovering the mutilated body. His agency has now identified the woman found in 1974 in the US state of Massachusetts as Ruth Marie Terry, FBI agent Joe Bonavolonta told journalists near Boston. The identity of the woman killed was clarified using a combination of DNA analysis, historical records and genealogical research.

Bonovolonta called on anyone with information on the “infamous unsolved case” to share it. Murder victim Ruth Marie Terry was from the US state of Tennessee and was 37 years old at the time of her murder. For more information on the murder, the FBI released a new appeal with four photographs of the now-identified murder victim.

The woman’s body was found on July 26, 1974 in Provincetown on the Cape Cod peninsula in the state of Massachusetts, which is popular with tourists. Terry was killed by a blow to the head, believed to be several weeks before she was found. Her hands were severed, presumably to make her identification more difficult, FBI agent Bonavolonta said. The head was “almost completely separated from the body”. No weapons were found near the body.

Investigators had followed numerous leads since 1974, but had not been able to clarify the victim’s name – although according to the FBI, authorities were examining thousands of missing person reports, interviewing local residents and trying to reconstruct the woman’s face with clay models. The breakthrough was finally achieved thanks to “investigative genealogical research” – a combination of DNA traces, publicly available data and traditional genealogical research. According to FBI agent Bonavolonta, no private DNA databases were used in the investigation.

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