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Victim of 50-year cold case ‘Lady of the Dunes’ identified by police

(BOSTON) — The oldest unidentified homicide victim in Massachusetts, known as the “Lady of the Dunes,” was officially identified on Monday almost 50 years after she was found dead.

FBI investigators in Boston said the victim was Ruth Marie Terry, 37, of Tennessee.

Terry’s cause of death was a blow to the head, the FBI said. Her hands were missing, “presumably removed by her killer so she could not be identified through fingerprints, and her head was nearly severed from her body,” said Joe Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division.

On July 26, 1974, her dismembered body was found in the dunes in Provincetown.

Investigators said investigative genealogy helped them identify the body.

“This is a unique method that can generate new leads for unsolved homicides, as well as help identify unknown victims,” Bonavolonta said. “This is, without a doubt, a major break in the investigation that will, hopefully, bring all of us closer to identifying her killer.”

The news has been delivered to the victim’s family, he added.

“At this point in time, we can tell you she was born in Tennessee in 1936,” Bonavolonta said. “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.”

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