BOSTON (WWLP) – The identity of a murder victim named “Lady of the Dunes” has been revealed in an nearly 50-year old homicide case.

A woman’s body was found on July 26, 1974 in the dunes about a mile east of the Race Point Ranger station inside the Cape Cod National Seashore in Provincetown, MA. Investigators determined that the cause of death had been a blow to the head, which was also nearly severed, and her hands were also cut off. They believe her body had been there several weeks.

Using the latest investigative genealogy and DNA technology, the FBI has identified the woman as Ruth Marie Terry of Tennessee. They also believe she had ties to California, Massachusetts, and Michigan. FBI notified her family before making a public announcement Monday morning.

“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 Joe Bonavolonta, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “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.”

For the past 48 years law enforcement has struggled to determine her identity and has used multiple investigative techniques including neighborhood canvasses; reviews of thousands of missing-person cases; clay model facial reconstruction, and age-regression drawings. 

Investigative Genealogy uses DNA analysis with traditional genealogy research and historical records in creating leads for unsolved violent crimes. 

The case is considered a homicide and is still an open investigation. Anyone with information about Terry or her death should contact the FBI’s Toll-Free tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or the Massachusetts State Police at 1-800-KAPTURE (1-800-527-8873) or submit a tip online at or