The Still Unsolved Murder Of The Lady Of The Dunes

On July 26, 1974, a young girl was walking her dog at the Race Point Dunes located in Provincetown, Massachusetts when she came across a grisly scene. On the sand before her was the nude body of a woman lying face-down on a beach towel. It was apparent that the woman was dead, as one part of her head was crushed and there was insect activity. Apart from the body and the towel, a pair of Wrangler jeans and a blue bandana were found at the scene, but there were no clues about her identity, as reported by True Crime Edition.

An autopsy on the woman concluded that she was between 25 to 30 years old at the time of her death, and she had been dead at least 10 days before she was discovered. She had long, red hair that was tied in a ponytail. Investigators concluded that the perpetrator made an effort to hide the woman's identity by removing her teeth and cutting her hands, so that she couldn't be identified via dental records or fingerprints, per ATI. The autopsy also showed that she was sexually assaulted, and her cause of death was a strong blow to the head. With no way to confirm her identity, she was referred to as the "Lady of the Dunes."

Investigations were fruitless

In the months following the discovery of the Lady of the Dunes, several detectives worked together to solve the case. Authorities said that she was killed somewhere else, as there were footprints to and from the scene. Her position also seemed posed, as if she was sunbathing when she was attacked, as reported by People.

The area where she was found was thoroughly searched, and her description was cross-checked against thousands of reports of missing women at that time. Despite all the efforts, they were not able to find clues regarding what happened or who the victim could be, per Cape Cod. No one came forward looking for the woman, and although investigators came up with a list of suspects, no one was charged for the crime, as they didn't have pieces of evidence to tie anyone to the incident.

On October 19, 1974, the Lady of the Dunes was laid to rest at the St. Peter's Cemetery in Provincetown. Her gravestone reads, "Unidentified Female Body Found Race Point Dunes: July 16, 1974."

The Lady of the Dunes' identity remains a mystery

Despite no leads, various detectives continued working on the Lady of the Dunes' case. In 1980, her body was exhumed in an attempt to get her identified, but it was unsuccessful. Her remains were again exhumed in 2000 to extract DNA. At that time, authorities were hoping that her DNA profile would provide a clue to her identity (via Boston Globe). The profile was added to several databases, but still, there was no confirmation about who she was. In 2010, experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Smithsonian Institution came up with facial reconstruction images based on a scan of her skull.

In 2019, investigators looked into the possibility of identifying the Lady of the Dunes using more advanced DNA technology as well as genealogy. To date, the case of the Lady of the Dunes still remains unsolved, but the Provincetown Police Department is still asking for tips and information that may help confirm the identity of the woman, per Provincetown.