(WATE) — After nearly five decades, an unidentified homicide victim, dubbed the “Lady of the Dunes,” in Massachusetts has been identified.
The victim has been identified as Ruth Marie Terry, of Tennessee according to the Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Which city in Tennessee Terry is from has not been shared.
The Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Office of the Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, the Provincetown Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts joined the FBI in making the announcement.
For nearly 50 years, investigators worked tirelessly to identify Terry, using various methods, including neighborhood canvasses; reviews of missing-person cases; clay model facial reconstruction and age-regression drawings. She was eventually identified through investigating genealogy. According to the FBI, Investigative Genealogy combines DNA analysis with genealogy research and historical records. The FBI said this “unique method” can give rise to new leads for unsolved homicides, and help identify unknown victims.
“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 Boston Division.
On July 26, 1974, Terry was found dead in the dunes near the Race Point Ranger station inside the Cape Cod National Seashore in Provincetown, MA. Investigators determined the cause of death to be a blow to the dead. She is estimated to have died several weeks prior to her body being found. The FBI added that her hands were missing and “her head was nearly severed from her body.” It is theorized that her hands were removed so she couldn’t be identified through fingerprints.
“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.
The public is asked to look at Terry’s Seeking Information Poster. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the FBI’s toll-free tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI or the Massachusetts State Police at 1-800-KAPTURE or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov or MSPtips@pol.state.ma.us.
Terry’s case is being investigated by the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Office of the Cape and Islands District Attorney, the Provincetown Police Department and the FBI.