Woman’s identity cleared after 50 years

Breakthrough in Massachusetts murder case

Mutilated body lay in the dunes: Woman’s identity clarified after 50 years

With this poster (detail), the FBI is asking for new leads in the 1974 murder case.

November 1, 2022 at 4:25 p.m

She was an anonymous dead woman for almost 50 years, now the “Lady of the Dunes” has a name. Her name is Ruth Marie Terry and she was the victim of a murder. Thousands of missing person reports have not been successful for decades, but now genealogical research, evaluation of historical records and DNA comparison have given the FBI a possible breakthrough in the case. This was announced by FBI agent Joe Bonavolonta in a press conference.

“Lady of the Dunes” is finally no longer anonymous

Bonavolonta called for all information about the “notorious unsolved case” from the US state of Massachusetts to be reported to its authority. Ruth Marie Terry was from Tennessee and was 37 years old at the time of her murder. In order to be able to solve this “cold case” after all, the FBI published a new appeal with four photographs of Terry.

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. The US media called the unknown “Lady of the Dunes”. Ruth Marie Terry was killed by a blow to the head, probably weeks before she was found.

The corpse’s head was almost completely separated from the body

The killer or killers had severed their hands, presumably to make their identification more difficult, Bonavolonta said. Her head was also “almost completely separated from the body.” A murder weapon was not found.

Although the FBI has been following numerous leads since 1974, the victim’s name has never been identified. The breakthrough finally came thanks to “investigative genealogical research” – a combination of DNA traces, publicly available data and traditional genealogical research, explained Bonavolonta. (howl)

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