The FBI identified Ruth Marie Terry, previously identified by investigators seeking her identity as the “Lady of the Dunes” using investigative genealogy, according to the FBI.
This is a unique method that can generate new leads for unsolved homicides, as well as help identify unknown victims, the bureau said.
“We are standing here today to announce that after nearly a half-century of investigative efforts, we have identified the oldest, unidentified homicide victim in Massachusetts, known as the “Lady of the Dunes.” She is Ruth Marie Terry from Tennessee who was just 37 years old at the time of her death,” said FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta.
On July 26, 1974, Ruth Marie Terry, 37, was found deceased in the dunes about a mile east of the Race Point Ranger Station in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The cause of death was a blow to the head and is estimated to have occurred several weeks prior. Her hands were missing, presumably removed by the killer so she could not be identified through fingerprints and her head was nearly severed from her body.
The left side of her skull had been crushed. No weapon was found at the crime scene. Her nude body was discovered lying on a beach blanket with her head resting on folded jeans.
“At this point in time, we can tell you she was born in Tennessee in 1936. Ruth was a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, and mother. Investigators have also determined that in addition to Tennessee, she had ties to California, Massachusetts, and Michigan,” said Bonavolonta.
“Today’s announcement should also serve as a warning to every murderer, rapist, and violent offender out there. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will not give up. It may take years, or even decades, but we are determined and we will be dogged in our search for justice for victims and their families,” said Bonavolonta.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact the FBI’s Toll-Free tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or the Massachusetts State Police at 1-800-KAPTURE (1-800-527-8873), or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov or MSPtips@pol.state.ma.us. You may also contact your local FBI office, or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.