Lady of the dunes

‘She's Been Waiting a Long Time': Son of Murder Victim ‘The Lady of the Dunes' Shares Final Goodbye

The son of the murder victim known for years only as "The Lady of the Dunes" visits the Provincetown beach where she was found dead

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The family of murder victim Ruth Marie Terry travelled across the country to Provincetown, Massachusetts, for a final goodbye.

Our team was invited on their private journey into the dunes where her body was found.



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Terry's family came to Provincetown to see the place where she became the victim of a horrible crime but also to thank the community for caring about her and this case that remained a mystery for 48 years.

For Terry's son, Richard Hanchett, it was an emotional journey decades in the making: "I want to go out there and be where she was. I want her to know that it's okay to go and then my mom's going to be able to go to heaven."

The family of Ruth Terry, a woman found dead almost 50 years ago on Cape Cod and only recently identified, is speaking out about the heartbreaking end to their story.

In Provincetown, Hanchett and his family head down a sandy trail, deep in the dunes to the spot where his search for his biological mother came to a violent end. He gets anxious as we travel deeper into the Race Point Dunes.

Terry was found brutally murdered on July 26, 1974. Her skull was crushed, her head was nearly severed and her hands were missing.

"What a horrible thing, you know what I mean?" said Hanchett. "In such a beautiful place like this. It's just really messed up. I can feel, you know, something really bad happened here. Yeah, I don't want to be here at all."

Hanchett never met his mom -- he was raised by a couple in Michigan since birth. In 2018, he began searching for his biological family only to learn his mom had been missing for almost five decades.

She was the unidentified murder victim known as "The Lady of the Dunes" for almost five decades, buried in the back corner of St. Peter's Cemetery in Provincetown. But last year, DNA and investigative genealogy led police to her roots and family in Whitwell, Tennessee.

Now, months later, they gather in Provincetown to say goodbye.

When asked what he said to his mom when he first stood at her grave, Hanchett broke down in tears and replied, "I told her I loved her and, uh, it's when everything set in, it broke my heart.

"I came to Provincetown for a couple of different reasons. The main one was to bury my mom, the next one was to say thank you to all of the people involved," he continued.

The late Guy Muldavin published a twisted book after the murder of Ruth Marie Terry, known for decades only as the Lady of the Dunes after her body was found in Provincetown in 1974.

The unsolved murder that has haunted this community came full circle at Terry's final resting place. Her family, investigators and the families of people bonded by that fateful day visit the graves of longtime Provincetown Police Chief Jim Meads, who worked the case until he died, and Leslie Metcalf, the 12-year-old girl who discovered Terry's body.

"Now they know where she is and they've met the people who have been caring for her and supporting her all of these years," said Metcalfe's sister, Alyssa.

The hunt for Terry's killer led investigators to her now-deceased husband, Guy Muldavin, whose family owned property and vacationed in Provincetown. He made headlines in Seattle, where he was also a suspect in the mutilation deaths of his previous wife and stepdaughter in 1960, but he was never charged with murder.

"The fact that he touched my mom kills me but the fact that he got away with it pisses me off more than anything," Hanchett said.

There's raw anger at times, and heartache, but this trip also brought a sense of peace. When some of Terry's ashes are tossed into the wind from a hill not far from the crime scene, Terry and her son are finally set free.

NBC10 Boston was there as Richard Hanchett visited Provincetown and scattered some of the ashes of his mother, Ruth Marie Terry, who was only recently identified as the Massachusetts murder victim known only as the "Lady of the Dunes."

Hanchett told us he felt his job was now done: "I felt like she'd been waiting a long time for me to come here. I just felt so at peace, you know what I mean? Like I completed my task."

Some of Terry's remains were also buried next to her mother in Tennessee and some will stay with Hanchett at his home in Michigan.

The criminal investigation into Guy Muldavin is ongoing.

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