The so-called “Lady of the Dunes,” a murder victim whose mutilated body was found in 1974 on a stretch of beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has been identified, officials said Monday.
Officials from the FBI named Massachusetts’ longest-unidentified homicide victim as Tennessee native Ruth Marie Terry, closing a key piece of the brutal case that has vexed investigators for nearly five decades.
Her body was discovered by a 13-year-old girl on July 26, 1974, about a mile from a National Park Ranger service station and bore the marks of a horrific crime, the Boston Globe reported.
Terry’s murderer had chopped off her hands — likely in an attempt to hide the crime — and tried unsuccessfully to decapitate her.
Her skull was damaged on the left side, likely by the fatal blow to her head, and she had been sexually assaulted with a wooden object, apparently after she was dead.
There was no sign of a struggle near the body or on it, leading investigators to surmise she likely knew her attacker and the killing itself may have happened at another location.
Terry was 37 years old when she vanished and would have been 86 today. It’s not clear why she was in Provincetown at the time of her killing.
No arrests have been made in the case.
On Monday, local District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said it’s possible her assailant is dead, but investigators will continue to try to identify the killer.
“This is, without a doubt, a major break in the investigation that will, hopefully, bring all of us closer to identifying her killer,” said Joe Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division.
With Post wires