Massachusetts Authorities Discover Name Of State’s Oldest Unidentified Homicide Victim Killed In 1974

massachusetts victim
Source: FBI

Nov. 1 2022, Published 11:14 a.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to Email

Authorities in Massachusetts have used genetic genealogy to solve one of the state’s most famous unsolved mysteries: the identify of a woman who was found brutally murdered on a beach nearly 50 years ago.

Article continues below advertisement

On Oct. 31, the FBI informed the family of Ruth Marie Terry that she was killed and her body left in the dunes in Provincetown in July 1974, officials said, the Associated Press reported.

Terry, who was from Tennessee and 37 at the time of her death, was found nude with her hands severed in an apparent attempt to make it impossible for investigators to identify her through fingerprints. The victim also suffered a crushed skull and her head was nearly decapitated, according to the AP.

Article continues below advertisement

An autopsy determined Terry likely died weeks before she was found from blunt force trauma to the head.


“This is, without a doubt, a major break in the investigation that will hopefully bring all of us closer to identifying the killer,” Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said of attempting to identify a suspect, who very well could be dead since Terry would have been 85 had she lived.

Article continues below advertisement

“Now that we have reached this pivotal point, investigators and analysts will turn their attention to conducting logical investigative steps that include learning more about her as well as working to identify who is responsible for her murder,” Bonavolonta said.

Officials said Terry — Massachusetts’ oldest unidentified homicide victim who became known as “Lady of the Dunes” — had connections to the state as well as California and Michigan.

She was also a wife and mother.


Become a Front Page Detective

Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.

More Stories

© Copyright 2023 Empire Media Group, Inc. Front Page Detectives is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.