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Mystery Solved: Authorities Identify Suspected Killer of Woman Found Dead on Massachusetts Beach in 1974

massachusetts victim
Source: FBI

Aug. 30 2023, Published 11:02 a.m. ET

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Authorities in Massachusetts have solved the nearly 50-year-old cold case killing of a woman and identified her suspected killer.

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In October 2022, the FBI identified the murder victim — Ruth Marie Terry — and notified her family that she was killed and her body left in the dunes on a Provincetown beach in July 1974, 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.

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


Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said last fall that the revelation of the victim's identity was "without a doubt, a major break in the investigation" and could lead them to whoever committed the crime against Terry, who would have been 85 had she lived.

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

Now, authorities have named her suspected killer: her husband, Guy Rockwell Muldavin.

“Based on the investigation into the death of Ms. Terry, it has been determined that Mr. Muldavin was responsible for Ms. Terry’s death in 1974. Mr. Muldavin passed away in 2002” in California at age 78, Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert Galibois said.

According to reports, Muldavin was the last person known to have seen Terry alive. He told the victim's family she had vanished during their honeymoon.

He was also a suspect in the double murders of his wife, Manzanita Mearns Rockwell, and her daughter, Dolores, in 1960. He was never charged in connection with their deaths.

The mother and daughter's decomposing remains were discovered in a septic tank.


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