A Break in Massachusetts’ “Lady of the Dunes” Mystery 48 Years Later

The oldest unidentified murder victim in Massachusetts, the “Lady of the Dunes” was identified 48 years after being found near Race Point Ranger Station in Provincetown on July 26, 1974. The woman was identified as then-37-year-old Ruth Marie Terry, on Monday through the use of forensic genealogy. When she was found in the dunes, she was naked, her hands had been cut off, her head had almost been severed, and her skull was crushed. At the time she was found, it was presumed she had been killed 10 days to 3 weeks before she had been discovered. At this time police do not have any further details on her killer though they are still assuming the person(s) responsible for her murder is still alive.

Ruth would have been 86 years old today if she had never been murdered. Police have said that they were able to inform her family Monday morning of her case and identity. They have also said they believe she had ties to Massachusetts, California, Michigan, and Tennessee. Though they are not sure why Terry was in Cape Cod at the time of her murder.

Investigators had previously exhumed her body back in 2000 and created a new sketch in 2010, both in hopes that they could generate new evidence leading to a break in the case. Though neither of their previous attempts were successful. It wasn’t until the FBI stepped in with a unique method of DNA analysis combining genealogy research and historical records that Terry was identified as the Lady of the Dunes.

Read more at CBS News.


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