It’s a bewildering business. Nearly 50 years later, the FBI and American justice have identified a woman, discovered killed, her hands cut off, in 1974. Nicknamed the mysterious “Lady of the dunes”, her name is Ruth Marie Terry. She was 37 at the time of her death. “Ruth was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a mother,” FBI Special Agent Joe Bonavolonta said, asking anyone with “any information” about the cold case to pass it on to investigators. .
At the time, her killer had not been arrested. “We are also aware that if we have identified Ruth as the victim of this horrific murder, it does not alleviate the pain of her family.” Indeed, for many years, investigators have followed the trail of several suspects. According to the first findings of the time, the young woman had been killed with a blow to the head. Her hands “presumably severed by her killer so she could not be identified by fingerprints, and her head was nearly severed from the body.”
Identification possible thanks to science
The authorities had then failed to identify the victim, “despite neighborhood surveys, the study of ‘thousands’ of files of missing persons, techniques of ‘facial reconstruction’ and composite portraits, and several exhumations from the body.” According to the FBI, genetic genealogy techniques thus made it possible to identify the victim 48 years after his death. A way to be able to put a name to a victim who has been waiting for almost 50 years to be identified. It also allowed a family to know the truth about the fate of Ruth Marie Terry and thus begin their process of mourning after these long years of uncertainty.
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