Submitted for the approval of the TNUC midnight society, I call this story, the LADY OF THE DUNES. 

Actually “I” have nothing to do with this story. This is a well documented, real life tragedy that is no TNUC tall tale. The story revolves around the remains of an unidentifiable murder victim’s body found mutilated out in the dunes of Cape Cod during the summer of 1974. To this day the “lady of the dunes” death is a complete mystery.

On July 26, 1974 a young girl was walking the beach with her family and dog when they discovered a decomposing body. According to police reports, the body was that of a woman laid face down on part of a beach blanket, covered in insects after having been sitting in the sun for two weeks. A blue bandana and pair of Wrangler jeans were under her head. She had long auburn/red hair. Both hands and one forearm were missing. Her head was nearly decapitated. 

Race Point Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Photos by Uncle T.

Her body was exhumed several times, as recently as 2013 and composite drawings were done. Where this story gets mighty interesting and spooky is how it might be somehow tied to the movie JAWS. This revelation was theorized by horror writer Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) a few years ago while he was attending a 40th anniversary screening of the classic film.

Something caught his eye about a third of a way into the film. The scene where flocks of tourists are shuffling on and off the ferry to “Amity” (fictionalized Martha’s Vineyard), a woman with dark hair and a blue bandana is seen for a brief moment. According to Hill, he shot up in his seat when he saw the “startling resemblance”.

His theory goes like this: Jaws was filmed in the summer of 1974 only 100 miles away from where “Jane Doe” was murdered. Often times locals would have gotten word that there was a movie being filmed nearby and would want to be involved — especially something so simple as being an extra.

Production companies back in the day would assign extras to wear their regular clothes to make it look as authentic as possible with the territory. Unfortunately during these times they didn’t keep records for background actors.

She was buried in an unmarked grave site in a Provincetown cemetery that reads:
Unidentified Female Body, Found Race Point Dunes, July 26, 1974

Hill wondered, “What if the young murder victim no one has ever been able to identify has been seen by hundreds of millions of people in a beloved summer classic and they didn’t even know they were looking at her?”

“What if,” he wrote in 2015, “the ghost of the Lady of the Dunes haunts JAWS?”

Call it far fetched if you will, but it’s definitely something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. TNUC visited Race Point Beach this summer and while walking the shoreline couldn’t help but start thinking…what if..?

Hill added “It would be no surprise at all if a girl summering on the Cape decided to take a few days to explore the Vineyard… especially with the added bait of celebrity to draw her in.”

47 years later and the case remains an unsolved mystery.

1 Comments on “LADY OF THE DUNES.”

  1. UPDATE: [“Unsolved Mysteries” update music]
    The Lady of The Dunes was positively identified this past October 2022 (apparently on halloween, no less) as Ruth Marie Terry, aged 37. Suspected in her killing was her husband. Still not sure if that was her in Jaws…

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