Nearly 50 years after her mutilated body was found on a beach in Massachusetts, the FBI has finally identified the reputed ‘Lady of the Dunes’ using DNA testing, historical documents, and genealogical research. The victim, Ruth Marie Terry, 37, a native of Tennessee who died in a horrendous murder in 1974 that was never solved, was revealed by the FBI on Monday at a news conference outside Boston.
FBI special agent Joe Bonavolonta told reporters that Ruth was a mother, wife, aunt, daughter, sister, and sister-in-law, pleading with anyone with information on what he called a ‘infamous cold case’ to come forward. Four photographs of the now-known victim appeared in a new FBI notice seeking information about Terry’s murder.
While identifying Ruth as the victim of this heinous murder can not make the anguish for her family go away—nothing can—Bonavolonta stated, ‘Hopefully it answers some questions while we continue to seek for her killer’. Detectives have unsuccessfully followed up on clues ever since the 1974 murder. Despite having several suspects, they never discovered who the victim was.
Terry’s body was found on a Cape Cod beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1974. She was probably killed a few weeks ago after being hit in the head. In order to maybe make her less recognisable, Bonavolonta revealed that her hands had been removed. He said, ‘And her skull was almost severed from her body’.
There were no weapons nearby the body. Despite decades of study, including the examination of thousands of reports of missing persons, questioning of locals, and attempts to reconstruct the victim’s face using clay models, the FBI reported that authorities were unable to identify the victim.