The cold case of the so-called "Lady of the Dunes" — whose body was found mutilated on sand dunes in Massachusetts in 1974 — has finally been closed after nearly five decades.
Ruth Marie Terry was identified as the victim last October, more than 48 years after her remains were discovered in the beach town of Provincetown in Cape Cod. Now, authorities say Terry was killed by her husband, Guy Muldavin.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert J Galibois announced Monday that the investigation into the case was officially closed. "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," the district attorney's office said in press release.
When Terry's body was found, her body was nearly decapitated and her hands had been removed. It was determined she "died from blunt force trauma to the skull," according to the Cape and Islands District Attorney.
"The skull was placed in police custody and was never sent to the cemetery for burial with the rest of the remains," the district attorney's office stated in the release. "Over the years and with the development of technology, portions of the skull had been tested for potential DNA testing."
In 2021, part of the jaw was tested by Othram, a company that specializes in forensic genetic genealogy, which led to a DNA profile of the victim, and her eventual identification. A death certificate for Terry was officially issued on April 5 of this year.
When the FBI announced the identification of the remains in October of 2022, the agency said Terry was 37 at the time her body was found and that she was born in Tennessee, but also had ties to states including California, Massachusetts and Michigan.
"With Ms. Terry identified, the Massachusetts State Police were able to complete their investigation into the death of Ms. Terry," the Cape and Islands District Attorney stated. "The Massachusetts State Police learned that Ms. Terry married Guy Muldavin in either 1973 or 1974. They traveled after their wedding, stopping in Tennessee to see Ms. Terry's family.
"Through investigative efforts, the Massachusetts State Police learned that Ms. Terry and Mr. Muldavin traveled during the summer of 1974," the DA's office continued. "When Mr. Muldavin returned from that trip, he was driving what was believed to be Ms. Terry's vehicle and had indicated to witnesses that Ms. Terry had passed away."
Terry's family never saw her again.
A brother of Terry tried to find her at one point, but Muldavin would only tell him that they "had a fight during their honeymoon, and he had not heard from his wife again," according to the district attorney's office.
Muldavin died in 2002, but he was also the prime suspect when another one of his wives and a stepdaughter vanished in the 1960s from the Seattle, Washington area, the DA's office stated.