Watch CBS News

Police seek information about husband of cold case homicide victim "Lady of the Dunes"

Investigators seek information about husband of "Lady of the Dunes"
Investigators seek information about husband of "Lady of the Dunes" 00:55

Police investigating the homicide of the "Lady of the Dunes" in Provincetown are seeking information about a man she was married to, CBS Boston reports.

On Monday, FBI investigators revealed the identity of the woman found dead in the Provincetown dunes in July 1974 as Ruth Marie Terry.

State Police believe she married Guy Rockwell Muldavin months before her body was found. Muldavin, a white male, is now dead.

He was also known to use the names of Raoul Guy Rockwell and Guy Muldavin Rockwell. Muldavin was born on October 27, 1923.

State Police also learned the victim went by other names, including Teri Marie Vizina and Teri Shannon.

State police say the investigation is ongoing, but they believe Muldavin is the same man possibly linked to crimes in Seattle. Although he was never charged, he may have been suspected in the deaths of his ex-wife and her daughter.

During a news conference Monday, authorities said Terry was born in Tennessee and was 37 at the time of her death.

Federal and state agents shared updates about their investigation into the woman previously called "Lady of the Dunes" because authorities had been unable to identity her for decades. 

Terry's body was found dead on July 26, 1974, in sand dunes roughly a mile east of the Race Point Ranger station in Cape Cod, according to police, who estimate that she'd been killed several weeks before the discovery.

Although officials determined at the time that head trauma had caused Terry's death, the particularly violent and grisly circumstances of her murder had prevented them from identifying her. The killer had removed her hands, possibly to hide fingerprints and her head was crushed and nearly severed from her body.

Investigators determined that in addition to Tennessee, Terry had ties to California, Massachusetts and Michigan. She was "a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, and mother," police said Monday.

FBI agents partnered with the Massachusetts State Police and District Attorney's Office as well as Provincetown police to uncover Terry's identity, which was eventually revealed using investigative genealogy, the FBI said Monday.

Investigative genealogy, also called forensic genealogy, is a technique where law enforcement pulls genetic information from databases to review in the context of a criminal case. Authorities can use DNA analysis in combination with traditional genealogy research and historical records, or private databases, to do this. 

"This is a unique method that can generate new leads for unsolved homicides, as well as help identify unknown victims," said Joseph Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston unit, in prepared remarks ahead of the announcement. "This is, without a doubt, a major break in the investigation that will, hopefully, bring all of us closer to identifying her killer."

-- Emily Mae Czachor contributed reporting.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.